Friday, December 29, 2000
Steamboat Springs The Colorado State Patrol and 48 other law enforcement agencies, including the Steamboat Springs Police Department, will be putting the heat on drunken drivers this holiday weekend.
Since the State Patrol started its "Heat Is On" campaign in 1996, drunken-driving arrests have increased by about 28 percent, while alcohol-related fatalities have decreased by about 27 percent, said State Trooper Rob Marone, who works in the public affairs division in Denver.
"The big issue is there is more of an awareness of drinking and driving that most motorist do not put themselves in situations after they have had a couple of drinks," he said.
For the 1999 New Year's celebration, the State Patrol made 162 DUI arrests during a weekend where five people died in car accidents.
However, none of the fatalities was alcohol-related, he said.
It was the second year in a row in the state where a person did not die because of alcohol on one of the biggest celebrations of the year.
The law enforcement agencies increased enforcement at 6 p.m. Friday.
Motorists can expect more officers and state troopers on Colorado highways and roads until 12 a.m. Monday.
"There will be 450 additional officers on the road statewide," Marone said.
The stepped-up enforcement includes Routt County, where the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Routt County Sheriff and the State Patrol will have more officers on the road.
Steamboat Springs is specifically having extra officers on patrol looking for drunken drivers, said J.D. Hays, Steamboat Springs director of public safety services.
On 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.
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 for DUI enforcement.
The State Patrol Office in Steamboat Springs also plans on having more troopers on the road this weekend.
"We always put extra troopers on the road for the New Year's holiday," said Sgt. Duane Bradley, who oversees the Steamboat Springs office. "Our focus will be to catch drunk drivers."
This weekend's enforcement comes on the heels of the Christmas holiday weekend, when three people died because of car accidents.
None of the fatalities was alcohol-related, but the State Patrol did make 59 DUI arrests, Marone said.
Marone is hopeful that fatalities and DUI arrests will be absent from this holiday weekend.
"People going out and drinking on New Year's need to plan ahead," Marone said. "They need to get a room, get a designated driver or take a cab home. People need to be smart and responsible."