DougCo ninth in state for impaired driving during 2022

Heather Willard
Photo byColorado Department of Transportation

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Jan. 13, 2023

(Douglas County, Colo.) The Colorado Department of Transportation announced the first 2023 impaired driving high-visibility enforcement period is Jan. 12-25. The agency is partnering with 69 law enforcement agencies across Colorado to increase patrol numbers and crackdown on impaired drivers.

The enforcement period comes after a particularly deadly year for Colorado, with a reported 736 road fatalities throughout 2022. The most fatalities recorded annually was 743 in 2002.

“There is no reason to get behind the wheel while impaired,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, Colorado State Patrol chief. “Even if you think you are okay to drive, it only takes one poor choice to make a life-altering decision that can end in a fatal crash. The lives lost in 2022 due to impaired driving could have been spared. We need to do better this year — lives depend on it.”

Impaired driving accounted for over 36% (271) of the state’s road deaths, and CDOT pointed to alcohol as a major factor in those impaired deaths. This is an increase from 2021, with 255 impaired crash deaths.

Sgt. Jeffrey Miller, public information officer with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said even one fatality is too many, but preventing every crash is almost impossible.

“(B)ut that is what we strive for,” Miller said. “We review every fatal/serious accident and try to figure out what we could do differently to help prevent it from happening again, whether it is by enforcement related solutions or suggestions to the county traffic engineering team. We do feel strongly about impaired drivers and will always try to take them off the roadways of Douglas County in an attempt to keep that person from injuring or killing another person.”

Douglas County is ninth among Colorado’s 64 counties for impaired fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to CDOT data, with 12 impaired crashes leading to 13 deaths in 2022. In 2021, 11 impaired driving crashes led to 12 deaths in Douglas County. The Castle Rock and Lone Tree police departments and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office plan to participate in the increased patrols.

“We feel that driving impaired is unacceptable because there are a lot of alternatives to getting where you need to go other than driving intoxicated,” said Sgt. Miller. “We also feel that taking part in statewide campaigns shows our commitment to keeping the residents of Douglas County safe.”

Adams (35 deaths), El Paso (27), Arapahoe (21) and Denver (20) counties had the highest number of fatal crashes involving an impaired driver in 2022.

“Take a moment this year to reflect on your choices and pledge to never drive impaired in 2023,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Find a designated driver, a Lyft or Uber, whatever it is — just make sure your ride to and from your destination is safe and sober.”

The recent New Year’s Eve enforcement period (Dec. 29-Jan. 3) resulted in 143 arrests across 77 participating agencies. The agencies with the highest number of arrests were Colorado State Patrol (32), Colorado Springs Police Department (23) and Fort Collins Police Department (8). Castle Rock and Lone Tree Police Departments each reported one arrest, and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reported none.

The total number of DUI arrests from 2022 heightened enforcement periods was 4,507, CDOT reported.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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