One crazy trick to avoid a NYE DUI: Call the cops |

One crazy trick to avoid a NYE DUI: Call the cops

Garfield County Deputy Thomas Moser looks up driver information while conducting a traffic stop south of Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A great way to ruin a new year is to get a DUI right after the ball drops.

Law enforcement beefs up patrols around New Year’s Eve not to ruin anyone’s year, but to make sure they, and everyone else on the roads, live to see it through, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.

In fact, Vallario would prefer someone call a non-emergency line and ask law enforcement for help rather than get behind the wheel drunk.

“We want to prevent somebody from getting arrested or hurting somebody,” Vallario said.

For those ringing in the new year in Aspen, vouchers for the Tipsy Taxi are available at most places, offering rides for revelers as far as Glenwood Springs.

But Glenwood Springs and surrounding towns don’t have a comparable service.

If all else fails and there truly are no other options for a partier to get safely home, Vallario would prefer intoxicated would-be drivers ring the authorities.

“Call us. We would much rather give you a ride home if we can, or find you a taxi, or find another resource, than give you a DUI,” Vallario said.

Across Colorado, 334 drivers were arrested over the seven-day New Years’ party binge.

During the New Year’s enforcement period last year, from Dec. 28, 2018 to Jan. 2, 2019,  Garfield County agencies reported arresting 10 drivers as part of the state’s high visibility DUI enforcement.

Garfield County law enforcement agencies don’t always participate in the statewide enforcement programs, but they do put more patrol cars on the road during the holiday season.

From mid-December until after New Years, the sheriff’s office adds patrols watching for potential drunk drivers during the holiday party season.

“The reason we beef up our enforcement is because we anticipate more people out there partying,” Vallario said.

Vallario isn’t a fan of DUI checkpoints in the region, partly because of the manpower required.

If deputies are checking cars in one area, they might miss an impaired driver somewhere else. And if a crash occurs or some other call comes in, Vallario doesn’t like his deputies tied up.

“(Increasing) the number of officers out there watching traffic, seeing what’s going on, making traffic stops, seems to be more effective. More arrests come out of that,” Vallario said. “Of course, we’d like to see zero arrests.”

Plus, nothing stops someone at a checkpoint from spreading the word about the checkpoint setup.

“It doesn’t take long for someone to see a checkpoint and either go another way, or call a buddy back at the bar and say, ‘hey, go another way,’” Vallario said.

The goal of DUI arrests is to prevent frequently fatal drunken driving crashes.

In 2018, 71 crashes were potentially caused by drunk drivers, according to state data. A total of 35 people were injured, and three died, in those suspected DUI accidents.

Vallario encourages anyone who overindulges to find alternatives to driving.

“There’s nothing illegal about being intoxicated. The only laws that pertain to that are once you get behind the wheel of your car,” Vallario said.

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