Summit County police turn up heat on firecrackers, drunken drivers
Summit County authorities are going with a zero-tolerance policy this weekend when it comes to both drunken driving and the use of illegal fireworks.
Local and state law enforcement agencies will be ramping up patrols between today and Sunday, during what is generally one of their busier weekends of the year.
Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation are working with local officials to continue the “Heat Is On” campaign, a DUI crackdown effort focused on specific holidays.
“The summer months are typically the most dangerous on our roadways,” CSP chief Col. Scott Hernandez stated in a recent release on the campaign. “Our goal is to stop drivers that chose to make the irresponsible and potentially deadly decision to drive while impaired.”
More than 600 Coloradans were arrested last year over the Fourth of July Heat Is On enforcement period.
The campaign this year will combine increased patrols and public outreach, with radio advertising acknowledging that people frequently celebrate with alcohol but trying to encourage them to use alternative forms of transportation so they don’t drive while impaired.
The initiative will include public messaging at Rockies baseball games and at concerts throughout the summer, signing up designated drivers and promoting transit options and taxi services.
Last year, 14 Coloradans were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the month of July and seven of them died over the Independence Day weekend, according to the statement.
“This year, our goal is none,” CDOT director of transportation safety Darrell Lingk stated in the release.
Locally, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office will be increasing patrols, on the lookout for drunken drivers and for the use of illegal personal fireworks.
“We’ll probably be stacking the decks a little bit. The Fourth of July weekend is busy for us and we get kind of overwhelmed,” Sheriff John Minor said. “The vacancy light’s on in the jail. Should you decide to visit us, we’ll make room.”
Breckenridge has issued a blanket ban on all fireworks, but smaller items such as sparklers are permissible in other parts of the county.
For now, however, U.S. Forest Service officials are not issuing any kind of fire restrictions on local public lands, saying conditions don’t meet the criteria necessary to warrant a fire ban. Still, local officials urged the public to be cautious.
“We encourage our residents and holiday visitors to be diligent about fire safety while camping and celebrating this weekend,” Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier stated in a release. “We are fortunate to have relatively high moisture conditions in our fuels for this week in July.”
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