Scarcely a week goes by without reports of DUI and other impairment-related fatalities on Colorado roads, especially with winter weather complicating driving even more. As a new year begins, the state has released preliminary data about the number of impaired drivers arrested in Colorado in 2016, as well as the number of deaths potentially caused by impaired driving across the state. According to an article from the Fort Morgan Times, with the recent New Year’s Eve “The Heat Is On” enforcement period now over, a preliminary total of 7,272 drivers were arrested throughout Colorado for DUIs and related offenses in 2016.
What are the Preliminary Numbers?
The Colorado Department of Transportation and law enforcement officials across the state work in cooperation to address impaired driving concerns through 12 enforcement periods throughout the year, known as “The Heat Is On,” that typically coincide with various holidays and/or public events. The enforcement periods last between four and 108 days depending on the specific period involved and provide law enforcement departments throughout the state with financial and other various resources to help find and reduce drunk drivers through the use of increased police checkpoints, overtime for police officers, and public awareness campaigns. 2016 DUI arrests dropped approximately 1.4% from 2015. However, DUI fatalities rose approximately 8% in 2016 as compared to 2015. DUIs and other impaired driving seem to have been the cause of 197 deaths across the state during the same period.
Why is the Data Preliminary?
The results are considered preliminary because being charged with a DUI or other impairment-related offense does not automatically equate to a conviction. Many times, a DUI citation is issued based on observations made by law enforcement officers at the scene of an accident or when an individual is pulled over. Convictions are not final until they have gone through the Colorado criminal justice system and have been decided by a judge or a jury, which depends on the type of charge an individual is facing. Therefore, the state cannot determine the exact amount of fatalities or convictions for DUIs and other impairment-related offenses until investigations surrounding fatalities and the judicial process for DUI charges are complete. Sometimes, this process may take even longer for repeat offenders that have received their fourth or subsequent DUI as this qualifies as a felony offense in Colorado and may result in a lengthy prison sentence, especially with a bill which was passed and signed by the governor on June 6th, 2017. In effect August 9th, 2017, it sets minimum sentences for felony DUI convictions (written about in more detail here.)
Need Legal Assistance?
If you are facing charges related to impaired driving or driving under the influence, it is important to recognize the serious nature of these criminal charges and be aware of the potentially serious consequences of a conviction. Selecting and working with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney that focuses on defending clients facing DUIs and related charges is an important first step in ensuring that your rights as a defendant are protected. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges you are facing, the potential consequences of a conviction, and what options might be available to you in your defense.
(image courtesy of Tyson Dudley)