Summit County joins statewide holiday DUI crackdown |

Summit County joins statewide holiday DUI crackdown

Summit Daily News/Caddie Nath

Local cops joined forces with the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol to come down hard on people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol this holiday weekend.

CDOT helps fund extra patrols for Summit County law enforcement agencies over Memorial Day weekend and on several other high-impact days, including weekends and special events, as part of a statewide “Heat Is On” DUI enforcement effort.

“We launched the ‘Heat Is On’ campaign in response to the summer months being the deadliest time on Colorado roads,” CDOT Office of Transportation Safety director Darrell Lingk stated in a recent release. “Our goal is to educate the public on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which can easily be avoided by designating a sober driver. We want Coloradans to enjoy the holiday weekend and to be safe while doing so.”

Local police departments and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office joined the effort with extra shifts funded by CDOT. The additional coverage will continue on key holidays and occasions during the summer and through New Year’s, officials said.

“Our goal is just to make Summit County roads a little bit safer,” Sheriff John Minor said.

Nearly 550 DUI arrests were made statewide during the same enforcement period last year, according to the statement. The campaign ended Monday, but enforcement will be stepped up again in the coming months, including over the July 4 holiday. There were more than 1,300 DUI arrests during the summer enforcement period last year.

“Throughout the summer, law enforcement will work hard to protect lives and arrest those who choose to put themselves and others in harm’s way,” Colorado State Patrol chief Col. Scott Hernandez stated.

The number of DUI arrests in Summit County over the holiday weekend was not immediately available.

Alcohol-impairment accounted for almost one out of three highway deaths nationally in 2010, according to data provided by CSP.

The same year in Colorado, 98 people were killed in crashes where an impaired driver had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08. Seventy-six percent of all drunk driving deaths in Colorado that year involved drivers with a BAC of .15 or higher.

In Summit County, the problem seems to be worsening.

More than 400 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI on local roads in 2012, a number that spiked 30 percent from 2011.

Two people were killed in car accidents in which alcohol was a suspected factor in Summit County last year.

The drivers in both of the fatal cases were charged with vehicular homicide.

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