June 28, 2023

Stay Safe on The Roads: County Issues Warning Against Impaired Driving Ahead of Independence Day Weekend, with Increased Enforcement Planned

As Independence Day weekend approaches, the Montgomery County Department of Police and the County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) are warning motorists: Impaired driving is drunk driving. County Police and allied local and State police departments will be on the road with enhanced patrols and sobriety checkpoints throughout the weekend.

Maryland’s recreational cannabis legalization law goes into effect on Saturday, July 1. Under the referendum that voters approved in November, adults 21-and-over can purchase recreational cannabis from licensed dispensaries. Possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis by adults over the age of 21 will be legal. County Police are emphasizing that it is illegal to drive while impaired, including under the influence of cannabis.

“Our officers will be conducting sobriety checkpoints throughout the extended weekend,” said Montgomery Police Chief Marcus Jones. “We implore drivers to think of cannabis the same way they think of alcohol. Do not get behind the wheel of a car if you are impaired. Our officers will pull over and arrest anyone they suspect of driving while impaired. Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can impair the ability to drive because they slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times. Our priority is keeping the roads safe for everyone.”

Nationally, the holiday weekend, marked by celebrations and increased travel, often comes with a surge in traffic crashes caused by excessive speed, impairment and distracted driving. The National Safety Council estimates 619 people may die on U.S. roads this Independence Day holiday.

MCDOT strongly advises celebrants to make arrangements ahead of time for safe transportation to and from events. The County’s Vision Zero effort to prevent death and injury on Montgomery County roadways offers a listing of local safe rides on its website here.

“We are expecting a record number of travelers to be on the road this weekend and into early next week,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “With Independence Day falling on a Tuesday this year, we know many people have plans to take an extended weekend for travel. Anytime someone chooses to drive while impaired it creates a serious threat to our community and combined with the sheer number of drivers on the road, this an especially dangerous time. We urge anyone planning to use alcohol or cannabis as part of their celebration to plan a safe ride home before heading out."

To aid this effort, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s SoberRide®, in partnership with Lyft, will offer a limited number of codes for $15 off a Lyft from 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, until 4 a.m. Wednesday, July 5. The first 1,500 passengers who enter a promo code that will be posted on July 4 at 3 p.m. will receive free rides up to $15. Users must be 21 or older and are responsible for any costs above $15. The service is valid in Lyft’s Washington, D.C. coverage area.

To request a SoberRide
  • Go to SoberRide.com.
  • During an active campaign time, the website will list the promo code.
  • Open the Lyft App on your smartphone.
  • Tap the menu icon in the top left corner.
  • Tap 'Rewards' in the menu that appears.
  • Tap 'Enter promo code' to add the SoberRide® code from the website (remember to check spelling).
  • Tap 'Apply' to finish.
For more information on the new Maryland cannabis law taking effect on July 1, visit the Maryland Cannabis Administration webpage here.