NJ to Take on Impaired Driving Through Pharmacy Initiative


Contacts: Lisa Batitto, news@drugfreenj.org

New Jersey to Take on Impaired Driving Through Pharmacy Initiative

STRATFORD — A coordinated effort by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS), the Office of Alternative and Community Responses (OACR), and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) will aim to increase awareness of the side effects of prescription medication and reduce instances of impaired driving in New Jersey.

pictured from left: Angelo Valente - Executive Director of Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey; Naomi L. Hubbard - Executive Director and CEO, CCCADA, Inc.;  Khawar Malik - owner White Horse Pharmacy; & Michael J. Rizol Jr., - Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety

The initiative, which was announced at a press conference on June 13, 2024 at White Horse Pharmacy, will involve the distribution of paper pharmacy bags to over 900 independent pharmacies throughout the state. The bags will have a message about driving under the influence of prescription medication imprinted on them.

More than 200,000 New Jersey residents are expected to receive the bags and be reminded that “there is no safe way to drive under the influence,” when they pick up their prescriptions over the next several months.

“This initiative recognizes that every pharmacy bag can carry more than just medication. It can carry a life-saving message,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “By including impaired driving messaging when medications are dispensed, we’re providing awareness, promoting responsible choices, and safeguarding our communities from the tragic consequences of driving under the influence.”

“We are proud to partner with OACR, DCA, and PDFNJ for this important and impactful initiative that aims to remind drivers that impairment doesn’t just come from the usual substances you think of such as alcohol or illegal drugs,” said Michael J. Rizol Jr., Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Prescription medications can have equally dangerous side effects, yet they often go overlooked. It’s crucial for everyone to understand that impaired driving includes any substance that affects your ability to operate a vehicle safely.”

“Through NJ CARES and DCA, OACR has proudly partnered with PDFNJ since 2020 to find innovative ways to inform the public about the dangers of opioids,” said Tiffany Wilson, Director of the Office of Alternative and Community Responses. “Our partnership with PDFNJ, with the assistance of HTS and DCA, expands even further with additional tools to educate the public about the dangers of driving under the influence of certain prescription drugs. I believe that this reminder, featured prominently on these prescription bags, will help save lives.”

"When it comes to impaired driving, many people don’t realize that prescription and over-the-counter medications – even if taken properly – can be just as dangerous as alcohol,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The professionals licensed by our Board of Pharmacy are on the front line of the fight to end drug-impaired driving and we are proud of the work they are doing with HTS, OACR, and PDFNJ to raise public awareness of this problem. The message they’re spreading is one that will undoubtedly save lives.”

A recent survey found that 1 in 20 drivers admitted to personally driving within two hours of consuming prescription medications that can cause impairment, while a study found that prescription drugs are the most common of all drugs found in impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes (46.5%).

“Driving under the influence of prescription medication presents an extreme danger to New Jersey citizens, yet it often goes unrecognized,” said PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente. “This program will provide residents with valuable information at a critical time – right when they pick up their medication. The pharmacy bags will help New Jerseyans be more aware of how medication can affect them and take the appropriate actions to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.”

Between 2018 and 2022, drug-impaired driving resulted in nearly 900 fatalities, which accounted for 28 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. During this period, there were nearly 8,000 crashes in New Jersey due to drug-impaired driving, and 41 percent of these crashes resulted in injuries.

“As a primary prevention organization, we recognize the importance of promoting a unified message across the community that substance abuse prevention efforts do work, but its success is truly through creative partnerships like these.,” said Naomi L. Hubbard, Executive Director and CEO, CCCADA, Inc. “When a community takes the needed steps to employ multiple strategies to combat substance abuse, there is an impact. Our organization is just one part of the puzzle, and some examples of our efforts include distributing Deterra RX Disposal Bags and resources, promoting Permanent RX Boxes, and education on safe RX use and disposal.” 

“We’re excited to be a part of this very important program to reduce impaired driving,” said Khawar Malik, Owner. White Horse Pharmacy. “Pharmacists play an important role in educating patients on the effects of medication, and this program will help to reach patients with this important message.”

For more information on impaired driving, visit njsaferoads.com


Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $200 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 226 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.