Arrests for driving under the influence in Colorado's ski resort towns continue to persist, placing many unsuspecting drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in potential danger. Greg Daly, the Avon Police Chief, says that many of those visiting the Central Rockies resorts are simply there to “party.” The 5th Judicial District, which includes Clear Creek, Lake, Eagle and Summit counties, leads the state for drunken driving arrests with a ratio 8.8 per every 1,000 residents. The 9th Judicial District, which includes Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties, is close behind with approximately 7.9 arrests per 1,000 people. In response to the problem, authorities in the region are heightening enforcement.
DUI Enforcement Efforts
Eagle County formed a task force of law enforcement agencies to combat drunk driving of the police departments in Avon, Vail, and Eagle, along with the Eagle County Sheriff's Department and the Colorado State Patrol. In 2007, a campaign known as “The Heat is On” began, which brought about more intense levels of enforcement. Chief Daly says the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has provided grant funding, allowing officers to work additional shifts and increase visible patrolling. Daly says it seems the majority of those arrested are actually local residents. Eagle County has a bus system that travels the majority of the main roads, and the cities of Avon, Vail and Beaver Creek also have city bus systems. With the prevalence of ride-sharing now in the area, there is hope that the volume of arrests will drop considerably.
Levels of Alcohol Intoxication
Chief Daly explains that there have been too many young lives cut short in recent years from impaired driving accidents. The levels of intoxication that police are finding seem to be on the rise, with more drivers approaching 0.19 percent blood alcohol content level, well beyond the .08 limit. Far too many people in the region are aware of their intent to drink, yet they do not plan for a safe means to return home. New options have emerged that allow people to estimate their level of intoxication. Personal breathalyzers exist that give people immediate results. The CDOT R-U-Buzzed app can be used to estimate a user's intoxication level and is based on the number of drinks consumed, type of drinks, gender, and weight.
District DUI Data 2017
- 5th District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake & Summit ): 884 arrests, rate of 8.8 per 1,000 residents.
- 9th District (Garfield, Pitkin & Rio Blanco): 647 arrests, rate of 7.9 per 1,000 residents.
- 6th District (Archuleta, La Plata & San Juan): 547 arrests, rate of 8.0 per 1,000 residents.
- 14th District (Grand, Moffat & Routt counties): 392 arrests, rate of 7.6 per 1,000 residents
How a DUI can Impact You if You Live or Visit a Resort Town in Colorado
DUIs are one of the leading causes of car accidents in Colorado, as well as in the United States. Thousands die each year as a result of an accident caused by a drunk driver. An auto collision caused by a drunk driver can result in serious injuries and/or death. A death can impact the decedent's loved ones unexpectedly and irreparably. Injuries can also have a sudden and devastating impact on your life, depending on the severity. For example, it is possible that you could incur an accident injury that eliminates or reduces your ability to work, which places a strain on you and your family. Such a situation creates a tremendous financial burden while you attempt to recover from the injuries. If the injury is severe enough, it may require you to retrain for a different type of work that is capable of accommodating you in your newly diminished physical capacity. But even a less serious injury can have real and costly consequences that interfere with your day-to-day life.
Tips to Reduce Potential Severe Injuries Involving Drunk Drivers
- Avoid being out on the road during the late-night hours when there is a greater likelihood of encountering a drunk driver.
- Reduce your speed and wear your safety belt to lessen your chances of being severely injured in a crash.
- Use extra caution when navigating through intersections, as they are "hot spots" for accidents involving drunk drivers.
- Contact the authorities if you encounter a vehicle that appears to be operated by an intoxicated driver -- you may save someone's life!
Intoxicated driving in Colorado resort and ski towns is a serious matter. The consequences are real. If you live in one of these towns or if you and your family vacation in one, follow these tips and remain overall alert by reducing distractions. To do so will go a long way to help you identify and prevent an accident with an intoxicated driver.