On January 23 2022, a California-based journalist tweeted an image of a highway sign with rather odd wording:
TBH I feel like a drunk or high person created this sign.😜 The message is important, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the wording.
Don’t let drunk or high friends drive
Don’t drive drunk or high
Don’t let the drunk or high drive
Were these options unavailable?🤦🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/2HVztGwHVr
— Sara Zendehnam (@szendehnam) January 24, 2022
Can someone explain the “don’t let drunk or high drive” signs all over California freeways?
Cause I’m starting to think whoever wrote it was both.
— Santiago Mayer (@santiagomayer_) January 24, 2022
Don’t let drunk or high drive (or write a sign) pic.twitter.com/njEISRdSzx
— Slick Taco (@LeahZeiger) January 24, 2022
I don't know Drunk or High, but if I meet them I won't let them drive. pic.twitter.com/FNBpy2UoX1
— Ian J. O'Neill (@astroengine) January 22, 2022
“Don’t let drunk or high drive” would only make sense if you read it drunk or high
— Carlos (@baarlos) January 24, 2022
Hahaha just passed an automated highway sign in California that said “don’t let drunk or high drive”.
Sounds like whoever wrote it was drunk or high.
This state is such a mess….🤦🏻♀️🤣
— chasetruth_ (@agenda212030) January 23, 2022
— Kristopher Carter (@utadeer) January 22, 2022
Typically, tweets about the “Don’t let drunk or high drive” signs in California were text-based. But several people managed to capture images of the signs, pointing to an existing campaign (versus some sort of a weird meme.)
Sign hacking was sometimes the culprit behind weird phrasing on programmable signs. In this instance, a search for “Don’t let drunk or high drive” (in quotes) shed a tiny bit of light on the signage and its purpose.
Twenty-seven results were returned, primarily in the form od coordinated press releases and public service announcements issued by California municipalities, police departments, and a newspaper. The releases were fairly similar, and while the strange syntax appeared in the headline or title, it wasn’t explicitly explained beyond that:
Don’t Let Drunk, or “High,” Drive: Celebrate the Holiday Season Responsibly
National “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Enforcement Campaign Begins Dec. 15
SANTA ANA, CA. (December 15, 2021): This holiday season, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reminds the public to celebrate the holiday season responsibly by not driving under the influence.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is committed to keeping our community safe and encourages everyone to stay in for the night or use a designated sober driver if you have alcohol, marijuana, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs that may impair …
Images and tweets about “Don’t let drunk or high” road signage in California often (but not always) included unique photographs of the also-unique signs. December 2021 press releases from agencies and press in California affirmed the existence of the bizarrely-phrased signs, but didn’t seem to explain why they were worded that way. The existence of the signs was not in question, but the decision to arrange words in that specific way remains a mystery.