Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Aug. 31, 2022
(Aurora, Colo.) The Colorado State Patrol named Labor Day the most dangerous holiday weekend due to the high rate of impaired driving that causes fatal or severe injury crashes. The transportation department will host a pop-up exhibit Friday to show residents the impact of a DUI arrest.
Labor Day is Monday, Sept. 5, and for many it is the last “hurrah” for summer. Thousands are expected to participate in camping trips, neighborhood barbecues or downtown festivities, often using personal vehicles to travel while impaired by substances.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, impaired drivers have killed 160 people in Colorado in 2022, which represents 36% of all traffic fatalities this year. Of the 78 traffic deaths that occurred during the Labor Day holiday weekend over the last 10 years in Colorado, 45% involved impaired driving, according to CDOT data.
In 2021, the Colorado State Patrol arrested 4,665 impaired drivers with over 35% of those occurring from May through August 2022.
“While alcohol continues to be the largest drug type impairing motorists on our roadways, as our agency refines our data collection troopers are seeing more types of drug combinations like a person using alcohol and marijuana on the rise,” said Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard. “If you are planning a party, be a good host and ensure no one drives away impaired. If you are going out, plan for a sober ride.”
To help illustrate the high rate of DUI arrests and crashes, CDOT is hosting a pop-up exhibit at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora on Friday, Sept. 2, from 3-6 p.m. The exhibit will illustrate the lengthy process of a DUI arrest.
CDOT is maintaining its annual Labor Day DUI enforcement period Friday through Monday. To encourage safe rides in Denver, CDOT is partnering with Anheuser-Busch, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Uber for the Decide to Ride campaign. The campaign asks people to leave their keys at home and take a sober ride. Uber discounts, to be shared in CDOT social media posts, will be available in Denver during the Labor Day holiday.
According to patrol data, major holidays ranked in order from most dangerous to least were:
- Labor Day
- Memorial Day
- Fourth of July
- Christmas Day
- New Year’s Day
- Thanksgiving Day
Fatalities on Colorado roads rose 50% since 2011 with over 700 deaths reported during 2021, according to CDOT data. Nearly 37% of those deaths involved an impaired driver. Since 2019, there has been a 44% increase in the number of fatalities involving an impaired driver.
Counties with the highest number of DUI case filings in 2021 were El Paso (3,616), Adams (2,817), Larimer (2,344), Jefferson (2,306), Denver (1,817) and Arapahoe (1,763).