Officers ramp up DUI watch

Increased effort part of Colorado’s ‘Heat Is On’ campaign

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— Local law enforcement agencies will increase their patrol presence starting today and running through Monday in an effort to discourage drunken driving into the new year.

Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said a few more police officers would be on duty each night during the enforcement period, with a concentration on today and New Year’s Eve. The Steamboat Springs Police Department will not operate checkpoints for driving under the influence, Rae said.

“The biggest message we want to put out there is to really encourage people to plan ahead — for them to utilize the free city bus, utilize the condo service shuttles and Alpine Taxi or a designated driver to have fun but obviously not to ring in the new year with a DUI,” Rae said.

The increased officer presence is part of the “Heat Is On” campaign, a project of the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol.

A news release from CDOT and CSP suggests that New Year’s revelers download an iPhone application to help determine blood alcohol concentration and likely discourage driving. The campaign operates www.planaheadcolorado.com to alert people about cab vouchers and other measures to prevent drunken driving. The cab voucher program is not available in Northwest Colorado.

According to the release, more than 600 people were arrested in Colorado on suspicion of DUI from Dec. 1 to 11, during the holiday party season portion of the 2009 “Heat Is On” campaign.

Options for a safe ride

Steamboat Springs Transit will run its free buses on a regular schedule Thursday, picking up passengers about every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. Thursday to 1:30 a.m. Friday at stops in the downtown and mountain areas.

Several additional buses and drivers will be out that night to meet the expected increase in demand, said Jonathan Flint, operations manager for SST. Flint said he plans to see 10 buses running routes on New Year’s Eve, six more than are normally in operation at night.

Drivers will not extend their official hours of service past the normal schedule, but they will be available to make extra rounds at the end of the night to make sure everyone gets home, Flint said.

“Just understanding that there are going to be a lot of people out there, we will be running the buses out an extra hour,” Flint said. To find a copy of the SST bus schedule, go to www.steamboatsprings.net, or pick up a winter schedule on the bus. Call the city’s transportation services department at 879-3717 with questions.

Go Alpine plans to double its usual number of drivers on New Year’s Eve, general manager Tracey Rogalski said. About 15 drivers are scheduled to work, with some possible additions; that’s up from seven to nine drivers on a typical winter night, Rogalski said.

Those hoping to take a taxi home should remain patient during their wait time, be ready for a taxi when it’s scheduled to arrive, and stay where they told Go Alpine they would be, Rogalski said. Advance bookings will not be accepted Thursday night.

For more information about taxi services on New Year’s Eve or to call for a taxi that night, call 879-8294, or 879-TAXI.

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