City ups DUI watch for Fourth

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— Police hope that residents of Steamboat Springs and visitors enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, but remember to stay safe and not drive drunk.

Choosing to drive drunk can hurt or kill yourself or someone else, and can be one of the most expensive decisions you'll ever make, Steamboat Springs Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said.

"It's cheaper to rent a helicopter and go to the most expensive restaurant in town than to get arrested for DUI," Fiebing said.

DUI enforcement will be stepped up throughout Routt County during the holiday weekend.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office will hold another DUI checkpoint July 4 as part of the statewide enforcement program, "DUI Checkpoint Colorado."

"We'll have extra officers on because there are just so many people in town," Fiebing said. "As always, there are going to be some stupid drunks who will drive."

Fiebing said many people underestimate the repercussions of being arrested for driving under the influence.

Every driver that is found with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 or higher will be arrested and taken to jail, Fiebing said.

But the costs don't end with bail money. Court fees, towing costs and insurance hikes can bombard drivers convicted of DUI. The costs can total thousands of dollars, Fiebing said. Some convicted drivers lose their driver's licenses.

Insurance agent Scott Mayor from Brown & Brown said a DUI arrest would result in a driver losing eligibility for a standard insurance policy. The driver must then switch to a non-standard insurance company.

A DUI arrest would most likely result in a doubling of insurance rates for a convicted driver, Mayor said.

Fiebing said it isn't a good idea for people to try and guess their blood alcohol content before driving, either.

"For some people, 0.025 (blood-alcohol content) is extremely dangerous," he said, even though that is lower than the legal limit.

"Don't try to keep track of your blood alcohol content," Fiebing said. "Make other plans and don't drive. I think that's so simple."

A variety of factors including weight, how much food a person has eaten and how often a person drinks can affect their blood-alcohol content, Fiebing said.

Drivers convicted of DUI can be in for a worse punishment than just fees, he said.

"If you get into an accident and hurt somebody or kill somebody, your life will never be the same," Fiebing said. "Nobody wants to spend $5,000 or $10,000 on a DUI case. That's nothing compared to going to jail for vehicle homicide."

So far, 140 people statewide have been arrested for DUI as a result of the DUI Checkpoint Colorado program. Two of them were in Routt County. The program will continue through Labor Day Weekend.

In 2001, more than half of the traffic accident fatalities in Routt County were related to alcohol.

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