For many, the new year marks a time for self-improvement, reflection and growth. For those who decide to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, it could mean jail time, steep fines and other penalties. From December 29 to January 2, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies will increase DUI enforcement to keep our roadways safe from impaired drivers during New Year's weekend celebrations.
The heightened enforcement is part of The Heat Is On campaign and could include checkpoints, saturation patrols and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement. Last year, 106 agencies arrested 279 impaired drivers during the 5-day enforcement period.
"More than one-third of all traffic fatalities this year involved an impaired driver," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "It takes one person's bad decision to change many lives forever. Plan a sober ride before you start celebrating."
So far, there have been 226 impairment-related traffic fatalities on Colorado roads in 2017, exceeding last year's total of 191 impairment-involved deaths.
"People often forget the financial, legal -- and most importantly -- the safety implications of driving impaired," said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of CSP. "There is absolutely no need to risk driving under the influence with the many transportations options available. We hope Coloradans will look out for one another this New Year's and help each other make smart decisions."
If you're hosting a party or other New Year's gathering, consider these tips to help prevent impaired driving:
- Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages available
- Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the end of the party
- Use smaller serving cups to keep alcoholic beverages to the appropriate size
- Plan activities and games that do not involve alcohol to reduce consumption
- Don't be afraid to take someone's keys if they've had too much to drink, or if they've ingested any impairing substance like prescription drugs, sleep medication, marijuana or any form of illegal drug
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.