Driving High In Maine? A Police Force's Warning Is A Total Fail In French

There's an obvious translation issue here...

Senior Editor
Poster of the "Driving High = OUI" campaign in Maine.

Poster of the "Driving High = OUI" campaign in Maine.

The police force of Rockland, Maine shared a seemingly unconventional warning to drivers on 4/20: "Driving High = OUI." While to French speakers it might look like authorities in the small coastal city had endorsed getting baked behind the wheel, locals would have understood the threat of prosecution for "operating under the influence."

"Like alcohol, using Marijuana over the age of 21 is legal in Maine," the post caption reads. "It is important to remember however that also like alcohol, using marijuana (medical or adult recreational) can impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and result in an OUI charge."

The message appears to originate from a March 2022 campaign against high driving from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Except that a promotional video from the Maine CDC includes some critically important punctuation.

Some have pointed out that Maine's francophone residents might get a different message from the campaign.

"I feel like Maine's marijuana ad campaign that says 'Driving High = OUI' doesn't translate well when you're reading it in a state where some people speak French at home," NEWS CENTER Maine meteorologist Mike Slifer wrote on Twitter in March.

A screenshot of the "Driving High = OUI" poster also made its way to Reddit following the Rockland police post. "French-speaking Mainers might interpret this differently," the Reddit post reads. It got a few hundred upvotes.

Rockland, Maine acting police chief Joel Neal has not responded to a request for comment on this story. MTL Blog has also reached out to the Maine CDC for more information on the campaign and its French translation.

Recreational cannabis consumption became legal in Maine following a 2016 referendum. Cannabis use in a vehicle, however, is illegal.

Penalties for a Maine O.U.I. charge range from a $500 fine and 150-day license suspension for a first offence to a $2,100 fine, six months of jail time and an eight-year license suspension for a fourth offence.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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