Mesa County joins DUI crackdown
By Kathleen Goddeyne
The final countdown of the “100 Days of Heat” DUI crackdown promises to be the most intensive DUI enforcement of the summer, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Over 90 law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) have increased DUI patrols from Aug. 17 through Sep. 4. In addition, at least 10 sobriety checkpoints are planned in the state.
The “Heat is On” enforcement coincides with the national DUI campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which includes over 10,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has staffed an additional five deputies through the Labor Day campaign. Grants from the state help fund the additional deputies and the extra checkpoints within Mesa County.
“We catch more people because we have more officers assigned to do DUIs during that time,” said Sergeant Wayne Weyler of the MCSO. “The media and the information that’s going out does help as far as deterring people from drinking and driving.”
New research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the 10,228 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2010 accounted for nearly one out of three highway deaths on U.S. roads – the equivalent of one death every 51 minutes. During the same time period, more than two thirds of drunk driving deaths (7,145 or 70 percent) involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher.
In Colorado in 2010, 98 people were killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver with a BAC of .08 or higher, representing 22 percent of all traffic fatalities. Of the drunk driving deaths, 76 percent involved a driver with BAC of .15 or higher.
“These people are not just having one drink, they are getting very drunk and then getting behind the wheel,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “That is why it is critical for everyone to plan ahead before getting to the point of intoxication when decision making is extremely poor. Figure out a plan before you begin drinking, or expect to face the consequences.”
Since the “100 Days of Heat” campaign began Memorial Weekend, Colorado law enforcement agencies have made 1,301 DUI arrests in Colorado during enforcement periods and at checkpoints.
During last year’s national DUI crackdown alone, police made 1,442 DUI arrests. According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations annual crime report, 25,789 adults were arrested for DUI in 2011. The cost of a DUI is $10,270.
Ten DUI arrests were made by MCSO last year during the National Crackdown Labor Day 2011 (08/19/11-09/06/11).
“There are probably less people out drinking and driving, but there are more officers patrolling,” said Weyler.
For more information and statewide statistics on alcohol and impaired driving,