Silverthorne police conduct memorial DUI shift in honor of slain student
Every year on the night of Aug. 5, a Silverthorne police officer conducts a DUI enforcement shift in honor of Jenny Zartman. This year will be no exception, said Silverthorne Police Sgt. Tim Osborne.
Zartman was killed in a drunk driving accident on Aug. 5, 2006 while she was going to school at the University of North Carolina. The driver was going the wrong way on the interstate at the time of the accident.
An honors pre-med student, Zartman was 21 at the time, engaged with a wedding planned in five months. A passionate student, she often volunteered her time to teaching and serving others and hoped to open her own midwife center in the future.
“Today is the ninth anniversary of her death,” said Barrett Edwards, Zartman’s aunt, who lives in Summit County. She originally reached out to Silverthorne police in 2013, requesting that they conduct an additional DUI shift on the anniversary of that fateful day.
“She was truly like a daughter to me,” she said. “Jenny’s immediate family is so, so grateful for the efforts of Silverthorne police.”
Jenny’s family has also worked with police in North Carolina to set up a DUI checkpoint in Charlotte. Last year, Edwards rode in the police car with a Silverthorne officer on the night of the fifth.
“It was so eye-opening and rewarding. The officer could not have been more wonderful,” she said. “We were maybe two hours into the shift and lifted up his ticket pad and showed me on the back of his pad that he had Jenny’s photo.”
While Silverthorne police receive grants for DUI enforcement from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Osborne said the department will do an extra DUI shift on the anniversary of the accident, whether or not the day is listed on the grant.
“We just dedicate a car to make sure there’s someone on DUI tonight because of that anniversary,” Osborne said.
The car will help with DUI patrolling efforts throughout the entire county.
This Wednesday was also a notable anniversary as it was the first day of enforcement for a new law that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed last session. Under this law, a driver’s fourth DUI offense in a lifetime could become a class four felony, where it was previously a misdemeanor.
In Colorado, a first-time DUI offender can be sentenced up to one year of jail time, with a fine of up to $1,000 and a nine-month license suspension. With each successive DUI, the maximum punishment increases. Now, with the fourth offense being a class-four felony, offenders could be fined anywhere from $2,000 to $500,000 and be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison.
“It’s frustrating when you arrest people that you’ve seen time and time again for a DUI,” Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt said. “Our goal and our hope is that people learn from their mistakes.”
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