As Coloradans prepare for Fourth of July barbecues, parties and festivities, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up to keep impaired drivers off the road. Law enforcement from 88 agencies across the state will be out with increased patrols, saturation patrols or checkpoints for the Fourth of July DUI enforcement period, which runs from Friday, June 29, through Thursday, July 5 as part of CDOT's The Heat Is On campaign.
From 2013 to 2017, there were 34 traffic fatalities in Colorado during the July Fourth holiday period. Of those fatalities, 56 percent (19) involved impaired drivers.
"Fourth of July is a dangerous time to drive, with more than half of the fatalities over the past five years involving impaired drivers," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "In 2017, 394 impaired drivers were arrested over the holiday enforcement period. Make the right decision and choose a sober ride to your destination, even if you've only had one or two drinks."
In 2017, July was the deadliest month on Colorado roads with 73 fatalities. Of those, 41 percent (30) involved impaired drivers.
During the recently completed Summer Blitz enforcement period, law enforcement arrested 554 impaired drivers from June 15 to June 25. A total of 104 agencies from across the state participated in the enforcement period. The Colorado Springs Police Department (58 arrests), Denver Police Department (31 arrests) and Aurora Police Department (25 arrests) recorded the highest arrest totals. In addition, CSP cited 93 drivers during the enforcement period.
"The July Fourth holiday is a fun time that often calls for celebration, but it is also the deadliest season on Colorado roads," said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of the CSP. "Before you start celebrating, be responsible and arrange for a sober ride home. Colorado drivers, law enforcement and your loved ones will thank you."
If you are planning on drinking, hosting a party or being a designated driver during the Fourth of July, take note of these tips to keep yourself, friends and fellow motorists safe:
Planning to Drink?
- Make sure you find a sober ride to and from the party before you go out. Some great options include taxis, Lyft, Uber and public transit.
- If a friend or family member is your designated driver, make sure he or she is absolutely sober before they drive you home, not just more sober than you are.
- Drink water between alcoholic beverages and eat plenty of food.
- If you are ever uncertain if you are safe to drive home, find a sober ride instead. Any amount of alcohol can result in impairment and the consequences aren't worth the risk.
- Use a breathalyzer to drink responsibly and stay in control. The only time it is acceptable to drive is with a BAC of 0 percent.
Hosting a Party?
- Encourage guests to find a sober ride home before the party or set up an Uber or Lyft group ride code to get everyone home safely.
- Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages for your guests.
- Only serve alcohol to guests who are over 21 years old.
- Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.
- Plan activities and games that do not involve alcohol.
- Make arrangements for guests to spend the night if they do not have a sober ride home.
- Don't be afraid to take car keys away from guests who have had too much to drink. Remember, if you serve a guest alcohol and he or she gets in a crash, you could be held liable.
- Keep your guests safe with a smartphone breathalyzer to monitor their BAC and level of impairment.
- If you are driving, do not drink. Remember, it is only safe to drive if your BAC level is at 0.00 percent.
- Stay sober at the party and enjoy food and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Offer a ride home to anyone who does not have a designated driver.
- Buckle up and require your passengers to do the same.
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. More details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.