‘It’s not rocket science’ — law enforcement beefs up DUI enforcement ahead of 4th of July festivities
Consider it a fair warning from CDOT and law enforcement — if you plan on drinking during the 4th of July holiday weekend, do not plan on driving.
“Go have a good time, just don’t get behind the wheel. Find somebody to take you home,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said. “Up valley, they have Tipsy Taxi. There are a lot of alternatives. Go have fun, enjoy the weekend, enjoy the holiday and if alcohol is a part of that … just don’t get behind the wheel of a car — it’s not rocket science.”
One of 15 enforcement periods that corresponds with holidays or special events, CDOT anticipates hundreds of DUI arrests over the course of the 4th of July.
According to CDOT Traffic Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole, on average 60 people get arrested daily across the state for driving under the influence.
However, last year during the 4th of July enforcement period over 300 people were arrested for DUI.
Additionally, between April 5 and May 13 — CDOT’s five-week Spring Events DUI enforcement period — Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and statewide law enforcement agencies cited 1,708 impaired drivers.
“Over holidays like the 4th of July we tend to see people celebrating with alcohol and there is nothing wrong with that unless you get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” Cole said. “We just don’t want them to get behind the wheel and law enforcement across the state will be prepared if people make that wrong decision to arrest them.”
Although not a law enforcement agency, CDOT still receives federal funds, which it turns over to state and local law enforcement departments in order to carry out heightened DUI patrols during holidays.
According to Vallario, DUI checkpoints work well in curbing impaired driving in densely populated areas, particularly along the Front Range.
However, in Garfield County, Vallario prefers a saturation of deputies and officers patrolling and looking for the signs of drunken driving instead.
“We’ve done in the past DUI checkpoints and I am not a big fan of those, because it’s very manpower intensive and as soon as a couple people drive through they call their friends in the bar and say, ‘Hey, don’t drive that way,’” Vallario explained.
“Saturation patrols — extra people focusing on drunk driving and impaired driving — really seems to be much more productive in terms of enforcement, and so we’ll have extra folks out doing that.”
In addition to apps like the Virtual Bar by responsibily.org, which calculates blood alcohol concentration (BAC), CDOT has also encouraged the public to purchase smartphone breathalyzers.
“We just launched a campaign to offer these smartphone breathalyzers at half off,” Cole explained of the technology that Colorado residents may order at heatisoncolorado.com with the discount running between July and September.
“You blow into it and then on your phone will come your actual, true blood alcohol content along with how long you need to wait before it is safe to drive.”
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The Garfield County coroner has identified the pedestrian who was killed in a one-vehicle crash on Highway 6 in Rifle Wednesday morning.