News

State Launches Anti-Drugged Driving Campaign as National DUI Crackdown Begins

August 19, 2011 - Traffic Safety - (Denver) – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol and statewide law enforcement agencies today launched an anti-drugged driving campaign as part of the state’s Heat Is On DUI enforcement effort.

The campaign coincides with the national DUI crackdown that begins tonight at 6 p.m. and continues through 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Sep. 6th.

According to test results reported to CDOT, from 2006 to 2010 at least 411 people were killed in crashes in Colorado involving a driver who tested positive for drugs, representing 16% of all traffic fatalities (2,551) during the 5-year period.

“Driving impaired by any drug is illegal, and just as deadly and dangerous, as drinking and driving,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.  “It doesn’t matter if the drugs are legal and were obtained with a prescription, medical marijuana card or purchased over-the-counter.  If the drugs impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle you will be arrested for DUI.”

One method law enforcement agencies use to identify drivers impaired by drugs is through specially-trained Drug Recognition Experts (DRE).  The number of qualified DREs on Colorado roadways has doubled from 86 in 2005 to 173 in 2011.  There are expected to be more than 190 DREs among 54 law enforcement agencies statewide by the end of this year.

DRE evaluations occur after a driver has been pulled over and arrested for DUI, and when the reason for the impairment is not obvious. From 2005 to 2010, the number of evaluations conducted by DREs nearly doubled from 465 in 2005 to 910 in 2010.  The evaluations can result in all categories of drug use, but cannabis (marijuana) is the most common, occurring in over 58% of evaluations.  Between 2009 and 2010, there was a 35% increase in the number of DRE evaluations that come up with cannabis as the drug involved.

“We can’t pinpoint one reason why we have a seen an increase in drivers under the influence of marijuana.  The rise in the number dispensaries and registry card holders may be a factor, although certainly not the only reason,” said Glenn Davis, manager of Impaired Driving programs at CDOT.  “Illegal drug use, as well as combining medications with alcohol is a growing problem. CDOT will continue to provide funding to train law enforcement officers to recognize when drivers are impaired by drugs or alcohol.”

The Medical Marijuana Industry Group (MMIG), a leading trade association of medical marijuana dispensaries, supports the anti-drugged driving campaign and is partnering with CDOT to reach medical marijuana users through the medical marijuana centers.

“The Medical Marijuana Industry Group supports the anti-drugged driving message.  We want medical marijuana patients to know that it is not safe to medicate and drive.  We will work with Colorado medical marijuana centers to educate their customers about the effects of driving under the influence of cannabis, as well as the risk of a DUI or much worse,” said Michael Elliot, executive director of MMIG.

CDOT’s public education and high-visibility DUI enforcement is funded primarily by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and will be highly visible across the state. The campaign includes radio advertising, billboards, signs at gas stations and convenience stores, as well as posters distributed to hundreds of pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries across the state.

Local pharmacists support the campaign to educate the community about how prescription and over-the counter medications can impact safe driving.  “Please take a few minutes to talk with your pharmacist or prescriber about whether or not your medication can impair your ability to drive. A few minutes could save your life or someone else’s life,” said Anna Cetre, a pharmacist with Walgreens in Denver.  “Remember that certain medications can be extremely dangerous when combined with alcohol or illegal drugs.”

The national DUI enforcement period is part of the final push of “100 Days of Heat” summer DUI crackdown that began Memorial Day weekend.  The Colorado State Patrol and the following 82 agencies have posted the following plans for increased DUI enforcement Aug. 19 through Sept. 6th:

Sobriety Checkpoints:

Friday, Aug 19                        Traditional Checkpoint - Colorado Springs PD

Traditional Checkpoint - CSP Troop 4-A Fruita, Grand Junction PD, Mesa County SO

Saturday, Aug. 20                   2 Roving Checkpoints – Larimer County SO

Traditional Checkpoint – Douglas County SO

Friday, Aug. 26                       2 Roving Checkpoints – Denver PD

2 Roving Checkpoints - Weld County DUI Task Force

Traditional Checkpoint – Gilpin County SO & CSP Troop 6D

Wednesday, Aug. 31  2 Roving Checkpoints – Weld County DUI Task Force

Friday, Sept. 2                        Traditional Checkpoint – Westminster PD

2 Roving Checkpoints - Larimer County SO

Traditional Checkpoint – CSP Troop 4A Fruita, Grand Junction PD, Mesa County SO

Saturday, Sept. 3                    Traditional Checkpoint - Lakewood PD & CSP

Increased/Saturation Patrols:

Alamosa County SO

Alamosa PD

Arapahoe County SO

Arvada PD

Aspen PD

Auraria Campus PD

Aurora PD

Avon PD

Baca County SO

Basalt PD

Boulder County SO

Brighton PD

Broomfield PD

Calhan PD

Castle Rock PD

Colorado Springs PD

Commerce City PD

Cortez PD

Crested Butte MO

Denver PD

Dillon PD

Douglas County SO

Durango PD

Edgewater PD

El Paso County SO

Englewood PD

Erie Police

Estes Park PD

Evans PD

Firestone PD

Fort Collins PD

Fort Morgan PD

Fountain PD

Fraser/Winter Park PD

Frederick PD

Fremont County SO

Frisco PD

Garfield County SO

Gilpin County SO

Glenwood Springs PD

Grand Junction PD

Green Mountain Falls MO

Greenwood Village PD

Golden PD

Gunnison PD

Haxtun PD

Idaho Springs PD

Jefferson County SO

Kiowa County SO

Lafayette PD

Lakewood PD

Larimer County SO

Littleton PD

Log Lane Village MO

Logan County SO

Longmont PD

Loveland County SO

Loveland PD

Mancos MO

Manitou Springs PD

Manzanola PD

Mesa County SO

Montezuma County SO

Montrose PD

Morgan County SO

Northglenn PD

Pagosa Springs PD

Parker PD

Pueblo County SO

Pueblo PD

Saguache County SO

Sedgwick County SO

Snowmass Village PD

Steamboat Springs PD

Sterling PD

Summit County SO

Thornton PD

Walsenburg PD

Washington County SO

Weld County SO

Westminster PD

Wheat Ridge PD

Woodland Park PD

For more information about the Heat Is On, the latest enforcement plans and arrest results, visit www.HeatIsOnColorado.com.

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