Holiday Celebrations Fizzle for 656 Impaired Drivers
With holiday parties and seasonal celebrations in full swing, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and statewide law enforcement agencies completed heightened DUI patrols from Dec. 1-11 as part of The Heat Is On campaign. During the 10-day enforcement period, officers arrested 656 impaired drivers — an increase from the 568 arrests during the same enforcement period last year.
“There’s no excuse these days for driving impaired, and it’s shocking that we’re still seeing these numbers,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. “Every time someone chooses to drive impaired, they are putting everyone on the road at risk. Impaired driving is a major issue CDOT will continue to address to help curb Colorado’s traffic fatalities.”
According to preliminary data, 220 people have died in impairment-related crashes in Colorado this year, exceeding last year’s total of 197 deaths. In 2016, between November and December, 21 people lost their lives in impairment-related crashes.
The Holiday Parties DUI enforcement included 113 statewide agencies. Denver Police Department (65 arrests), Aurora Police Department (40 arrests) and Colorado Springs Police Department (38 arrests) reported the highest arrest totals. In addition, the Colorado State Patrol reported 136 arrests. To access CDOT’s The Heat Is On arrest database for every enforcement period, visit bit.ly/HIOarrests. Arrest data can be sorted by law enforcement agency, county and enforcement period.
“The days are getting shorter and winter weather will be here before long — adding alcohol or drugs to the equation significantly increases the risk of being involved in a crash,” said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of the CSP. “Troopers are trained to recognize impaired driving from a range of substances. If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested.”
Along with the serious risks impaired drivers present to themselves and other motorists, a DUI arrest can include severe legal and financial consequences. First-time DUI offenders can be punished with up to one year in jail, license suspension and thousands of dollars in fines. On average, a DUI can cost more than $13,500 after considering fines, legal fees and increased insurance costs. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.
The Heat Is On will return for its final enforcement period of the year from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2 to coincide with New Year’s celebrations.
The CDOT Highway Safety Office provides funding to Colorado law enforcement for impaired-driving enforcement, education and awareness campaigns. The Heat Is On campaign runs throughout the year, with 14 specific high-visibility impaired-driving-enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large public events. Enforcement periods can include sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired-driving enforcement.
Find more details about the campaign, including impaired driving-enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips at HeatIsOnColorado.com.