Driving Drunk into the New Year in Colorado

The Atlantic reported last week on drunk driving throughout the US by looking at the rates of fatal car crashes between 2001 and 2010 for the 25 most populated cities. Surprisingly, Colorado had some of the highest rates. In Denver, CO 54.2 % of fatal car accidents involved intoxication making it the only major US city where more than half fall into this category. Looking at less populated cities, both Colorado Springs and Lakewood were among the highest in which fatal crashes involved alcohol more often than not with 54.1% and 52.5% respectively.

This report came out just after New Years Day when the Denver Post reported that 81 people across the state started their New Year off with an arrest for driving under the influence. However, Col. James Woldinbarger the chief of the Colorado State Patrol stated “Fortunately, none of our Troopers had to knock on a door during the holiday weekend to tell a family that one of their loved ones was killed in a drunk-driving crash” and added, “On behalf of all Coloradans and those who use our roadways, please make the resolutions to plan ahead, designate a sober driver, and never drink and drive.”

Colorado has stricter laws on drunk driving compared to other states, including an implied consent law. This means that if someone refuses to submit a chemical test (i.e. breathalyzer or other), they are subject to an automatic license suspension of a year and fines up to $1000. For a first time drunk driving conviction an offender faces up to a year in prison, a 9-month suspension of their license and fines also up to $1000. Colorado also has a special law called “Driving While Ability Impaired” or DWAI that makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% whereas most states prohibits people from driving with a BAC of 0.08% and above. And all these convictions get exceedingly more stringent with multiple offenses.

Hopefully a combination of personal New Year’s resolutions to plan ahead, as Col. Woldinbarger suggested, and the strict DUI laws across the state will put a dent in the high rate of drunk driving across the state. Often, when an offender seeks treatment for alcoholism in Colorado they are able get their sentencing reduced. A large percentage of those convicted of drunk driving have alcohol dependency issues and use their conviction as a wake up call and begin to address their drinking problem. If you have been convicted of a DUI or are concerned about your drunk driving and alcohol consumption, Harmony Foundation is Estes Park, CO offers affordable alcohol treatment  in a private environment.