New Year's Eve represents a night of celebration and resolutions, but not all Coloradoans stuck to those resolutions while ringing in the new year. So, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and statewide law enforcement agencies increased DUI patrols from December 29 to January 2 to keep impaired drivers off the roads. This enforcement period saw 366 impaired drivers cut their celebrations short with a DUI arrest, an increase from the 279 arrests made during the same enforcement period last year.
"This time of year should be one to celebrate with loved ones and safely get home at the end of the night," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "It's disheartening to see so many people making bad decisions that could forever impact the lives of many others on Colorado roadways."
The enforcement was part of the ongoing The Heat Is On campaign and included saturation patrols and additional officers on lookout for impaired drivers. The New Year's Eve enforcement concludes the 2017 The Heat Is On enforcement periods. During the 14 enforcement stretches, law enforcement arrested 10,359 drivers for DUI, according to preliminary results. By comparison, in 2016, The Heat Is On campaign arrested 7,279 drivers over 12 enforcement periods.
There were 114 agencies that participated in the New Year's enforcement period, with the Colorado Springs Police Department (29 arrests), Denver Police Department (25 arrests) and Aurora Police Department (22 arrests) recording the highest DUI arrest totals. CSP arrested an additional 64 DUI offenders across the state.
"At an alarming rate, we continue to see impaired drivers on Colorado roadways putting themselves and other motorists in danger," said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of CSP. "Roughly one-third of traffic fatalities for the year involved impaired drivers. The more dangerous drivers we can get off the roads, the safer motorists will be."
Preliminary data shows 226 people died in alcohol-related crashes on Colorado roads in 2017, an increase from the 191 alcohol-involved fatalities in 2016.
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