Denver, CO

Colorado launches holiday effort to keep impaired drivers off the road

Sara B. Hansen

By Sara B. Hansen / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Colorado law enforcement agencies want to protect people from impaired drivers during the holiday season.

As of Dec. 1, 620 people have died on Colorado roads, with 221 or 36% of them dying in crashes with impaired drivers.

The counties with the highest fatalities:

  • Denver
  • Adams
  • Arapahoe
  • Jefferson
  • El Paso
  • Weld

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and Colorado officials ask drivers never to drive while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or prescription drugs.

On Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, and local law enforcement agencies launched the Heat Is On Holiday Parties DUI enforcement period. During the enforcement period, which runs through Dec. 29, drivers may see more officers on patrol and sobriety checkpoints.

Take an Uber or Lyft

CDOT’s “Ultimate Party Host” campaign offered $10,000 in Uber ride credits to help keep impaired drivers off the road. Six hundred drivers snapped up the credits that they must use this month.

CDOT will offer 200 additional Uber credits Friday at Denver’s Argonaut Wine and Liquor for in-store customers.

The American Automobile Association will partner with Lyft to offer its Tow-to Go program, a last-resort safety net. The free service will transport impaired drivers and tow their vehicles to a safer location within a 10-mile radius. The program, which keeps drivers’ names confidential, is available from Dec. 24 through Jan. 3

“The holidays are a time for joyful memories with our friends, families, and communities, not mournful ones,” said Col. Matthew Packard, Colorado State Patrol chief.

“With all the options available, driving impaired should be a 'thing of the past.' So for those unwilling to do the right thing and make a plan before the party begins, our enforcement periods are intended as a holiday gift: to help prevent unnecessary tragedy caused by you on the road.”

DUI arrests

Last year during the holiday DUI enforcement, Colorado agencies arrested 394 impaired drivers.

So far, in 2021, 15,040 drivers have been arrested for driving under the influence. On average, Colorado arrests 20,000 drivers annually for driving while impaired. That’s an average of 55 DUIs daily.

“Impaired driving continues to threaten the safety of everyone on Colorado roads,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk.

“We want everyone to travel safely so they can celebrate the holidays with their loved ones. Sober driving is the responsibility of everyone that gets behind the wheel.”

Holiday arrests

During the Thanksgiving Week enforcement period, 86 agencies made 155 arrests.

The New Year’s Eve Weekend enforcement period runs from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2.

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Sara is the Denver news manager for NewsBreak. She's held editing roles at The Denver Post, The Des Moines Register, and The Fort Collins Coloradoan.

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