News

MADD and CDOT urge drivers to never drive impaired ahead of Labor Day weekend

August 31, 2021 - Central/Eastern Colorado/Traffic Safety - 19,000 impaired drivers arrested since 2019 during heightened enforcement periods

Photos and videos from the press conference are available for use at: https://bit.ly/3zyjMbw

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DENVER — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and state legislators are coming together to highlight the importance of heightened DUI enforcement campaigns, including the current Labor Day DUI enforcement period. 

This year, as of Aug. 30, there have been 146 traffic fatalities in Colorado involving a suspected impaired driver. That is roughly 37% of all traffic fatalities so far this year. Last year at this time that number stood at 32%. Counties with the highest number of impaired fatalities are: Denver (16), Adams (12), Arapahoe (13), Jefferson (13), El Paso (11), and Pueblo (10). 

MADD volunteer Clara Shelton, who lost her brother, Sam, to an impaired driver in 2016, pleaded with the public to never drive impaired. "One man's choice to drive drunk changed my family's life forever. Sam and every other victim of impaired driving should be here today. Don't drive drunk. It's that simple."

MADD Campaign Card

 

Since 2019, high-visibility DUI enforcement periods have removed roughly 19,100 impaired drivers from Colorado roadways. These special enforcement periods typically occur during the holidays. A DUI arrest can result in jail time, $13,530 in fines and penalties, suspension of a driver’s license, mandatory counseling, and installation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs). For more information about DUI citations, visit: noduicolorado.org/.  

The Labor Day DUI Crackdown is the longest heightened enforcement period of the year. With 71 law enforcement agencies participating, the heightened enforcement began Aug. 18 and will run through Sept. 6.

“Without DUI enforcement, impaired drivers would go unchecked and cause havoc on our roadways,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the CDOT Highway Safety Office. “Our high-visibility enforcement periods play a crucial role in keeping our roads safe, especially during high-traffic occasions like Labor Day weekend.”

Most impaired driving arrests in Colorado are made pre-crash, preventing an untold number of deaths and injuries each year. Studies show that the greatest deterrent to impaired driving is the fear of arrest. On average, there are over 20,000 arrests for impaired driving in the state annually. 

“We are stepping up our efforts to remove impaired drivers from our roadways,” stated Sgt. Michael Honn, Colorado State Patrol. “Until society evolves so that individuals automatically and willingly give up their keys until they are sober, law enforcement will continue with these proactive measures to reduce the negative impacts of individual poor choices.”

MADD event at CDOT
 
“Any life taken by a drunk or drugged driver is absolutely unacceptable,” said Fran Lanzer, MADD Colorado Regional Executive Director. “We will continue to advocate for the necessary resources for law enforcement to save lives on our roads. These high-visibility DUI enforcement periods are essential to keep all of us safe from impaired drivers."

In 2021, CDOT’s Highway Safety Office (HSO) faced a significant shortfall in funds to support its impaired driving enforcement program. Colorado law requires the HSO to plan 12 high-visibility impaired driving enforcement campaigns each year. Without such funding, impaired driving enforcement statewide would be extremely limited. To correct the shortfall, the state legislature appropriated $2 million to replenish funding for the program. Marijuana cash tax funds were used as the funding source. Prime sponsors of the legislation were Senators Chris Hansen and Paul Lundeen, along with Speaker of the House Alec Garnett and Representative Yadira Caraveo. 

“The safety of our patients, consumers and communities is critical, and, thanks to partnerships such as these, Colorado’s public safety work has become the model for other states that have legalized cannabis,” said MIG Executive Director Truman Bradley. “DUI enforcement funds provide a critical public good by removing impaired drivers and saving lives — MIG is proud to be involved in upholding the safety of our roads.”  

Colorado is a national leader in using ignition interlock devices (IID) as an impaired driving deterrent. Following a DUI conviction, a driver may be able to drive again if they have an IID installed in their vehicle. The device monitors a driver's BAC periodically and will report results back to the DMV. In 2019, ignition interlocks stopped 139,020 drinking and driving attempts in Colorado and the devices are estimated to save 45 lives in the state annually. This year, there are 33,097 active ignition interlock devices installed in vehicles registered in Colorado. 

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped save more than 390,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435). Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD (877-275-6233).

About The Heat is On

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 16 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. Find more details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips at HeatIsOnColorado.com. More information about DUI laws in Colorado can be found at NoDUIColorado.org. Learn more about CDOT’s dedication to keeping Colorado roads safe, including impaired driving enforcement objectives, arrest data and safety information at codot.gov/safety.

About CDOT

CDOT’s Whole System-Whole Safety program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely. Our approximately 3,000 employees work tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. The department manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,000 bridges and 35 mountain passes. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also operates Bustang, the state-owned interregional express bus service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.