Colorado residents from all corners of the state have probably noticed increased DUI enforcement patrols over the past few weeks—especially late at night.
Why? Because police departments across the state are just finishing up their annual Labor Day crackdown on intoxicated drivers, which began on August 21 and will continue through September 8. Their “Heat is On!” campaign is supposed to target the rash of drunk and drugged driving that occurs every year around holidays. It’s a high-visibility piece of law enforcement propaganda that occurs during 12 different holiday periods throughout the year.
The campaign, orchestrated by the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol, combines increased enforcement aimed at DUI offenders with a public awareness campaign about the dangers of driving under the influence.
In some counties, police are utilizing saturation patrols during the crackdown—meaning that many police officers will be concentrated in high traffic locations in order to catch drunk or drugged drivers. This has meant more police around downtown areas and other places with a high density of bars and restaurants. For your county department’s plan, the CDOT has provided a chart of enforcement plans of the participating departments.
As of this writing, Colorado police have already issued 260 DUIs during the Labor Day crackdown. The Heat is On! website has a live counter tallying the total number of citations issued to intoxicated drivers. Visitors can also look at specific tables for the number of DUIs in their own county. Last year, the Labor Day DUI enforcement resulted in 1,102 statewide arrests from 95 participating law enforcement agencies, according to the CDOT.
Police departments all over the United States are conducting summer crackdowns on driving under the influence, including the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. But the Colorado campaign is unique in its positive message that uses humor to get the point across.
Entitled “A Few is Still Too Many,” the media campaign accompanying Heat is On! has ads featuring crocodiles, tarantulas, and children playing with chainsaws. Not exactly what you would expect from anti-drunk driving marketing. But the organizers hope their use of humor will help to raise public awareness and convince more drivers to refrain from getting behind the wheel after even a small amount of alcohol. All of the ads serve as examples proving that even just a few of certain things—like crocodiles, tarantulas, or a few drinks before driving—can still be very dangerous.
The campaign specifically targets individuals who are unaware that it only takes a small amount of alcohol to push their blood alcohol content over the legal limit. It’s similar to the message of the NHTSA, the motto of which states “Buzzed Driving is Still Drunk Driving.” The Colorado Department of Transportation claims many individuals in their targeted demographic (males from 21-35) do not consider driving after just a few drinks to be impaired driving.
“With the availability of cabs and ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, most people know how to get home safely after drinking,” said CDOT Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole in a release on his department’s webpage. “Unfortunately some people will go out for a few drinks and not recognize they are above the legal limit to drive; so this campaign targets those that think they’re ok after only a few.”
Many Coloradans are still unaware that they can be prosecuted if their blood-alcohol content falls below the nationwide .08% legal limit. Drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .05% or higher can still be charged with a DWAI, or “driving while ability impaired,” if the officer judges your motor functioning to be reduced by alcohol.
Everyone wants to keep drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel so that our roads will be safer for all of us. Unfortunately, increasing the number of police focused on DUIs also tends to lead to overzealous policing and officers being more willing to cut corners to catch as many people as possible and set an example.
Don’t let local law enforcement make an example out of you. If you were charged with a DUI or DWAI during this crackdown, you could face fines, loss of license, and even jail time. But that doesn’t have to be the outcome. There are a number of defenses that an experienced Colorado DUI lawyer can use to help you fight for your rights and get your charges reduced or even dismissed.