Tuesday, December 23, 2003
DUI enforcement is stepping up across Routt County this holiday season.
As in past years, agencies have received funding through the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund to beef up patrol monitoring traffic throughout the holidays.
Steamboat Springs police Sgt. Rich Brown said the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Eve are the busiest and worst time of year for drunken drivers.
Last year, 22 people in Colorado died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in December.
The police department joined the Routt County Sheriff's Office and Colorado State Patrol in The Heat is On, a statewide campaign increasing DUI enforcement for 16 straight days. The increased enforcement started Friday and will last until Jan. 4.
In the city, the extra shifts will be put in place from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and the extra staff time is covered through LEAF grants, Brown said.
In 2003 and again in 2004, the city received $15,000 to add extra patrol throughout the year to curb drinking and driving.
Steamboat Springs Police Chief Art Fiebing said there are plenty of options for people who want to celebrate the holidays without driving home intoxicated.
The city of Steamboat has a free bus that runs until 2 a.m.; the Tipsy Taxi program offers rides home from area bars; and there is always the option of using a designated driver or walking.
"I don't know what more we can do to support having a good time but not drinking and driving," Fiebing said.
The city's bus system will keep its regular hours throughout the holiday season and will increase its circulation on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Jonathan Flint, operation manager of Steamboat Springs Transit, said that time period provides the heaviest ridership of the year. Almost 9,200 people used the bus last New Year's Eve.
Each year, bars organize a Tipsy Taxi benefit to raise money for taxi payment vouchers, which the bars later give out to patrons too intoxicated to drive home, Brown said.
When compared to the agony that comes with drunken driving accidents, the cost of taking a taxi is a wise choice, Fiebing said.
"If we catch people, they deserve everything they get or more," Fiebing said.