2016 One of the Worst Years for DUI Deaths, New Technology Offers Hope

National preliminary DUI statistics for 2016 indicate that it may have been one of the worst year on record for drunk driving-related deaths. A recent article from CBS News indicates that 2016 DUI-related traffic fatalities may turn out to surpass the previous year’s once again.

The Numbers

It may take some time for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) to finish compiling results about the number of DUI charges and DUI-related fatalities for 2016. However, according to the article, currently available numbers indicate that an average of 28 people per day were killed in DUI accidents in 2016. This could represent a total greater than 2015’s DUI-related death toll of 10, 265. Authorities are troubled by this trend, as 2015 saw nearly 300 more deaths than 2014. In fact, the NHTSA has commented that increases like this have not occurred in 50 years.

Colorado has not been immune to the increase in DUI-related deaths. Colorado law enforcement targets drunk drivers at all times, but certain periods throughout the year when impaired driving is more common are addressed with increased drunk driving checkpoints and increased police presence to catch impaired drivers as part of “The Heat Is On” campaign. While some of the notoriously heavy Colorado heightened DUI enforcement periods saw a decrease in DUI arrests and related charges, the state as a whole saw a disturbing increase in related fatalities. A recent article in the Fort Morgan Times indicates that preliminary statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation show that 197 people were killed in DUI-related traffic accidents in 2016. That number would represent an increase of 15 deaths from 2015.

The Potential of New Technology

While still in preliminary phases, the development of new technology may help reduce the number of DUI-related traffic fatalities in the future. According to the CBS News article, ignition interlock devices that are often mandatory when convicted of a DUI may help drivers recognize when they are too impaired to drive. Such devices use sensors to detect a driver’s blood alcohol level and will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s level is beyond the legal limit. Virginia is scheduled to begin testing such technology this year, and the technology could start showing up as a new car option as soon as 2020.

Legal Assistance with Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving Charges

The Colorado Department of Transportation has worked to educate the state that even one drink may impair a person’s ability to drive. If you have received a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while ability impaired, it is important to work with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney. The criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm has worked with numerous clients defending against these and similar charges. If you are facing alcohol or drug-related charges, contact the Colorado criminal defense attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing as well as potential defense that could be available in your circumstances.

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(image courtesy of Robert Mathews)