(COLORADO SPRINGS) — As you start planning where to celebrate New Year’s Eve, it is also smart to plan how you will be getting home when the night ends.
“These are supposed to be celebrations, holidays, people taking vacation, making plans to celebrate this should be a joyous occasion,” said Regional Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Fran Lanzer. “And instead, there are many families who are at home without a loved one because of a selfish choice that someone else has made. To get behind the wheel drunk or under the influence of drugs.”
A concern Lanzer addressed was the rise of fatalities on Colorado roads from drunk driving.
“Unfortunately, right now things are really bad on our Colorado roads. We’re looking at our third straight year of increased fatalities from… drunk driving,” Lanzer said. “And these are 100% preventable deaths, they don’t have to happen.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) shared how there will be an increase in law enforcement on the roads to ensure drivers are safe.
“So starting tomorrow, there will be increased DUI enforcement across the state,” said Sam Cole, Traffic Safety Manager for CDOT. “We know this is a time when a lot of people are going to start to party, start to drink, celebrate the new year. The enforcement period goes through Monday, but it does start tomorrow because we know some people are going to start celebrating early, what this looks like on our roadways.”
Another danger on Colorado roads are drivers combining both alcohol and other substances.
“But we are seeing more and more people combining alcohol with other substances, which really increases their level of impairment,” Cole said.
CDOT has made around 4,000 arrests for impaired driving in 2022, and Cole said there is an increase around the holidays.
“We definitely see a spike in the number of DUI arrests just because people are out having a good time,” Cole said. “They might be on break from school, they might be on vacation from a job. So more people are out, and that’s great. We want people to be out having a good time. We just don’t want them getting behind the wheel after they’ve had a good time.”
In El Paso County, Cole shared around 500 DUI arrests have been made.
“Unfortunately, El Paso County is really a hotspot for DUI arrests in the state,” Cole said. “And that’s why it’s so important to see the sheriff out there and different police chiefs engaging in this impaired driving enforcement.”
One way in which you can be smart after celebrating NYE is take a ride sharing service. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office is helping fund a promotion to ride with Lyft on New Year’s Eve.
“…In addition to the increased enforcement that’s happening over the next few days, CDOT is actually giving people a way to stay safe,” Cole said. “We’re giving people $10 ride credits on Lyft. Lyft is a rideshare program, this is being funded by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.”
Lanzer advocated that spending money on a ridesharing app can help you get home safely.
“It may cost a little bit more money to get a rideshare instead of driving yourself,” Lanzer said. “But if you compare that to the fact that a first time DUI in Colorado is going to cost $13,500, it’s way cheaper to just spend a little bit more money, making sure that you and your friends can get out and get home safe.”
If you live in Pueblo or Colorado Springs you can take a free cab ride home thanks to McDivitt Law Firm.
Maverik convenience stores are also thanking drivers who are providing safe rides by offering them a free energy drink from the hours of midnight to 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Driving under the influence puts not only your life at risk, both those who are also on the road. Lanzer mentioned how he sees the pain of those who lost a loved one from a drunk driving crash.
“And it’s just devastating, the families that we work with, the victims and survivors that we provide support to,” Lanzer said. “You know, I get to see it every day, unfortunately, that there’s a hole in their lives because of a selfish choice that someone else made. And that’s a choice that you don’t have to make because you can plan ahead. This is 100% preventable.”
MADD has a 24/7 hotline available to help support victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. The hotline number is 1-877-MADD-HELP. Information on donating or getting involved with MADD can be found online.
When it comes to driving impaired, Cole warned what will happen if you get arrested for a DUI.
“It’s just not wise to take a chance. Eventually, law enforcement will catch up with you,” Cole said. “And if you are pulled over for DUI and you’re arrested chances are you’re also going to be convicted. Upwards of 90% of the people that are arrested for a DUI end up being convicted. What that means – that means upwards of $13,000 in fines and penalties.”