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Plan Ahead: Colorado Cracks Down on Drunk Driving

What do Thanksgiving, the winter holiday season and Super Bowl Sunday have in common? While this might sound like the beginning of a joke, there is a much more serious theme running through each of these events: increased drinking and driving. During certain times of the year, the Colorado State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies go after those who get behind the wheel after drinking at office parties, family gatherings or the big game.

Local police departments and sheriff’s offices were also be out in increased numbers as part of an enhanced enforcement period during Super Bowl weekend. The crackdown was intended to reduce the likelihood of motor vehicle crashes related to driving under the influence, or DUI, and driving while ability impaired, or DWAI.

Increased Law Enforcement Presence

In Larimer County, two additional deputies from the Sheriff’s Office were on patrol from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Super Bowl Sunday, while regular deputies patrolled with an emphasis on looking out for impaired drivers. This effort is similar to the one that took place over New Year’s Eve 2011, when four additional deputies were out on patrol for the same purpose.

It appears that crackdowns are working. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, over the week of Thanksgiving 2011, increased enforcement in Colorado led to the arrest of 435 drivers suspected of drunk driving, up from 363 DUI arrests during the same week in 2010.

DUI Penalties in Colorado

In Colorado, drivers are presumed to be DWAI if a blood test or breath test shows their blood alcohol level is more than 0.05 percent but less than 0.08 percent. A blood alcohol level of at least 0.08 raises a presumption of DUI. Driving with a blood alcohol level of at least 0.17 percent can classify the person as a persistent drunk driver and lead to even more severe penalties. Driving with a blood alcohol level over .2 can subject a person to jail time even on a first offense.

Although the consequences of DUI and DWAI are serious, the prosecution must prove the charge of drunk driving beyond a reasonable doubt. Drivers who have been arrested and charged with these offenses should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who will advise them of their options and obtain the best possible result.