61 Percent of Memorial Day Fatalities Alcohol Related
As Coloradans tuck away their winter gear and swimwear resurfaces for Memorial Day weekend, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement statewide are ready for the next The Heat Is On DUI enforcement period. DUI arrests traditionally rise during the holiday weekend and increased patrols are necessary to keep roads safe. The intensified patrols begin Friday, May 27, and run until Tuesday, May 31. 78 law enforcement agencies across the state will participate.
"Between 2007 and 2015, there were 67 traffic fatalities on Colorado roads during Memorial Day weekends," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "Of those 67 fatalities, an alarming 41 (61 percent) were alcohol related. The need for The Heat Is On enforcement periods is clearly evident, particularly over Memorial Day weekend."
Last year, 301 arrests were made during the five-day enforcement period. During the recent Spring Events DUI enforcement that ran from April 9 to May 15, 70 participating law enforcement agencies arrested 1,451 people for DUI, with Aurora Police Department (239), Denver Police Department (216) and Colorado Springs Police Department (135) recording the most arrests.
"Law enforcement understands that people will be out having fun during the holiday weekend, but there will be zero tolerance for impaired drivers," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "We encourage drivers to consider the consequences of a DUI and the danger they present to themselves and others on the road."
Checkpoint Colorado, a 100-day summer enforcement period, also begins May 27 and will run through Labor Day weekend. Participating statewide law agencies conduct three DUI checkpoints during the enforcement period.
Ahead of the Memorial Day enforcement period, one of CDOT's partners, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Colorado, presented 17 awards to outstanding individuals and agencies that are making a difference in the community. The 2016 MADD Colorado Law Enforcement Recognition Dinner and Awards Ceremony took place last evening.
"If you're celebrating with alcohol this Memorial Day weekend, please plan ahead for a safe way home," said MADD Colorado State Executive Director Fran Lanzer. "If not, you might end up meeting one of these officers because they will be out to keep our roads safe this weekend."
Colorado Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) Limits
* DUI (Driving Under the Influence) -- .08 percent or higher
* DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) -- .05 percent or higher (but less than .08 percent BAC)
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. More details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.