While the Patriots defeated the Falcons to become Super Bowl 51 champions in Houston, back in Colorado law enforcement agencies were busy defending state roads from impaired drivers.
From February 3 to 6, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law agencies collaborated for the Super Bowl DUI enforcement as part of The Heat Is On campaign. Officers arrested 273 impaired drivers during the heightened weekend enforcement, a decrease from the 325 arrests during the same enforcement period last year.
"Last year, nearly one-third of Colorado's traffic fatalities involved an impaired driver," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "Impaired driving is a major issue CDOT will continue to address to help curb Colorado's traffic deaths. Every time someone chooses to drive impaired, they are putting everyone on the road at risk."
Ninety-seven agencies participated in the Super Bowl enforcement, with Aurora Police Department (29 arrests), Colorado Springs Police Department (28 arrests) and Denver Police Department (27 arrests) recording the highest arrest totals. CSP also reported 38 arrests statewide.
"It's important to make a plan to get to and from your destination before you start to drink alcohol," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the CSP. "Alcohol not only impairs motor skills, but also decision-making. It only takes a few drinks and one bad decision and to cause serious harm to yourself and others on the road."
The legal BAC limit in Colorado is 0.05 percent for driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and 0.08 percent for driving under the influence (DUI). 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 returns March 10 for the 10-day St. Patrick's Day enforcement. Last year, 355 drivers were arrested during the heightened patrols.
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 12 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.
Learn more about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips at HeatIsOnColorado.com.