First DUI enforcement period of the year has begun

Traffic Safety Pulse News

It’s officially the season of winter fun and powder ski days, but motorists are encouraged not to start their year on a downhill slope toward a DUI. Through Jan. 11–24, CDOT is supporting the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and 58 local law enforcement agencies for the Winter Blitz DUI enforcement period. Saturation patrols across the state will remove impaired drivers from roads and encourage Coloradans to begin the new year safely. During enforcement periods, drivers may see sobriety checkpoints and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement.

Based on preliminary data, there were 218 impaired-related crash fatalities on Colorado roads in 2023, a 23.8% decrease from 286 fatalities in 2022. The counties with the highest number of fatalities involving an impaired driver in 2023 were Arapahoe (26), Adams (22), El Paso (21) and Jefferson (20). Adams County has ranked among the top three counties for impaired-related fatalities in the state since 2019. Additionally, the Colorado Springs police department reported 740 DUI arrests in 2023, the most of any other police department in the state. CSP reported a total of 1,101 DUI arrests across all 16 high-visibility enforcement periods.

Data graph that shows impaired driving fatalities from 2019 to 2023. There were 176 in 2019, 212 in 2020, 255 in 2021, 286 in 2022 and 218 in 2023.

“Last year’s Winter Blitz enforcement period resulted in over 370 DUI arrests,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Don’t risk losing your time, money, license or even your life because of a DUI. All motorists are counting on your decisions this year.”

Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal, not just alcohol. The majority of CSP troopers have specialized training in drug detection, known as ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement). All Colorado law enforcement agencies are able to administer alcohol and drug toxicology tests to drivers following a fatal DUI crash. Additionally, there are over 120 Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in Colorado trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.

“Even if you think you’re OK to drive, it’s always better to call a sober ride,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Getting behind the wheel while under the influence puts others in danger and greatly increases the risk of a fatal crash. There’s never a good reason to drive impaired.”

The recent New Year’s Eve Weekend enforcement period concluded with 221 arrests across 82 participating agencies. The agencies with the highest arrests were Denver Police Department (26), Thornton Police Department (15) and Colorado Springs Police Department (11). CSP reported 36 arrests. The next DUI enforcement period will be Super Bowl Weekend from Feb. 8-14.