Special to the Montrose Daily Press
With holiday excitement growing as Thanksgiving approaches, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies statewide will unite for the Thanksgiving Week high-visibility DUI enforcement period Friday through Nov. 30. CDOT encourages all Coloradans to celebrate safely by arranging sober rides and following COVID-19 safety guidelines. During the Thanksgiving enforcement period last year, 99 statewide agencies arrested 430 impaired drivers.
“One easy way to ensure a happy holiday is to make plans for safe and sober driving before the festivities begin. Don’t wait until the party starts and then guess who is the “least drunk” or “least high” person in the room,” said Chief Matthew Packard, Colorado State Patrol.
“Impaired decisions are impulsive with no regard to your future or those traveling around you. This holiday season, your Troopers and local law enforcement agencies will have an increased presence on our roadways looking for dangerous and impaired drivers who failed to plan.”
The last heightened DUI enforcement period was Halloween weekend, Oct. 29 — Nov. 2. During that period law enforcement arrested 198 impaired drivers, with the Colorado Springs Police Department (18 arrests), Denver Police Department (21 arrests), and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (14 arrests) reporting the highest number of arrests. CSP made 39 arrests. This is a decrease from the 250 arrests made during the same period in 2019.
Enforcement plans and arrest totals for each law enforcement agency can be found at https://www.codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-reporting-portal.
“To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are asking people to limit social gatherings over the holidays,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. “But if people find themselves in a situation in which they are drinking, they should know it is easy to underestimate their level of impairment and plan for a sober ride home no matter how much they have consumed.”
CDOT is reminding people to only interact with people from their household this Thanksgiving to help slow the alarming spread of COVID-19. This holiday season is an opportunity to reimagine what togetherness can look like and come up with creative ways to celebrate loved ones while making sure they stay healthy for many more years to come.
Dos and don’ts for Thanksgiving celebrations include: 1) Do cook and eat a special meal with members of your immediate household; 2) Do video chat or talk on the phone with friends and family who don’t live with you; 3) Do wear a mask and keep 6 feet of distance from others while grocery shopping; and 4) Don’t travel to visit family and friends in other households.
During The Heat Is On enforcement periods last year, law enforcement agencies across the state made approximately 7,837 DUI arrests from January through October. During the same timeframe this year, law enforcement has made 5,773 arrests. Although the number of arrests is fewer, the percentage of impaired driving fatalities has stayed the same — about 30% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado are impairment-related. Everyone across the state must do their part to keep themselves and others on the road safe by never driving impaired.
Following the Thanksgiving enforcement period, CDOT, CSP and local law agencies will conduct the Holiday Parties (Dec. 4-14) and New Year’s Eve (Dec. 29-Jan. 2) enforcement periods to keep motorists safe during the holiday season.
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 out more about the campaign at www.heatisoncolorado.com.