Steamboat Springs The last place anyone wants to end up on New Year's Day is in the Routt County Jail, but every year drunken drivers are arrested on one of the biggest celebrations.
To ring in 2000, six people were arrested for suspicion of drunken driving. Five of the suspects were arrested on Jan. 1, 2000. As a result of the arrests, the suspects spent the holiday in the Routt County Jail.
"Everyone knows that we are tough on alcohol-related driving," said J.D. Hays, public safety director for Steamboat Springs. "Everyone knows that, but still people drive drunk."
For the upcoming New Year's celebration, area law enforcement agencies are gearing up to crack down on drunken drivers.
The Colorado State Patrol, Routt County Sheriff's Office and the Steamboat Springs Police Department are planning to put more officers on the road for the holiday weekend.
The big night law enforcement officials are eying to keep drunken drivers off the road is for New Year's Eve Sunday.
"We will be staffed-up," said Routt County Undersheriff Daniel Taylor. "We will be working completely through the night."
Like the Sheriff's Office, more Steamboat Springs police officers will also be on patrol.
"For the holiday, we will have more officers on the streets looking for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol," Hays said.
Hays, who has worked in the city since 1980, is hopeful that people who plan to drink make plans not to drive home.
"From my perspective, I believe we have a high amount of people who drive drunk in this community all the time," he said. "Every year, we arrest hundreds of people for the crime."
For Sunday, the Steamboat Springs department plans to conduct a "DUI Saturation Patrol," Hays said.
The patrols call for extra officers to be assigned to the streets to specifically apprehend drunken drivers, he said.
Getting drunken drivers off the roads "saves lives," Hays said.
The extra officers assigned to DUI enforcement will be paid out of a $21,000 Law Enforcement Assistance Fund Grant the department was awarded by the state earlier this year.
The grant money is to be used toward DUI enforcement, he said.
Hays and Taylor are hopeful that people who intend to drink to celebrate 2001 will use other alternatives than driving home intoxicated.
"I encourage people to call a taxi or stay at the place where they are drinking," Taylor said. "We are hoping for a quiet evening."
Along with the taxi service, Hays encourages party-goers to use a designated driver or use the city's free bus service.
"I suggest for people to drink responsibly," Hays said. "Have a designated driver or take the bus."
The Steamboat Springs Transit service is planning on having as many buses as they can to provide free transportation on New Year's Eve, said Thorman Idzahl, an employee of the bus service.
"We will put out as many buses as we can at 11 p.m. New Year's Eve," Idzahl said. "How many more buses we will be able to put out depends on driver availability."
The daily hours for the free bus are from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Usually, the service has two buses on the city route.
Hays believes it is important for people to know what the legal blood-alcohol content is for driving a motor vehicle.
"People don't realize how alcohol can affect their driving ability," he said.
The state has two thresholds for drunken driving. A person who had a BAC of 0.05 percent can be arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired.
A person who has a BAC of 0.10 percent can be arrested for Driving Under the Influence, which carries a stiffer punishment.
"A lot of people don't know that one or two drinks can affect your legal driving ability," Hays said.