New Year’s Eve revelers in Denver and the surrounding area have no excuse for driving under the influence that night and local law enforcement officials say they are ready to crack down on the ones who do.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, approximately 1,310 city and state drivers will have been nabbed for on a DUI charge by the end of the holiday season that began the week of Thanksgiving. It’s a number that could be greatly reduced, CSP officials said, if local partiers would utilize the free rides offered by the Regional Transit District as well as $10 cab vouchers being offered (somewhat ironically) by a major local brewer.
“Start the New Year off with a clean slate. Make a plan before you head out this New Year’s Eve,” is the advice from Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We’ve taken hundreds of people off the road already this holiday season for driving under the influence. Don’t put yourself and others lives at risk. Call a cab, take public transportation or serve as the sober designated driver for your group. And whether you’re the designated driver or just a passenger, please don’t forget to buckle your seatbelt.”
According to CSP statistics, there were 35 traffic fatalities in Colorado this year from November 22 to December 26, and of those fatal accidents, 14 were alcohol-related. In the final two weeks of December in 2010, 415 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the U.S., including six people in Colorado
To help stem that tide, more than 90 law enforcement agencies across Colorado have plans to step up their patrols starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 30 and continuing through to 3 a.m. on Monday, January 2.
In a program sponsored by MillerCoors, New Year’s Eve partiers in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland will find $10 cab vouchers at a number of bars and restaurants. While such an offer is apparently not available in Denver itself, the RTD is offering free rides in the Denver metro area beginning at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve through to 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The scheduled hours of service will remain the same, however.
“We hope people will take advantage of our free rides. This is something we’ve done for the past twenty-one years and we’ve seen a great response,” said RTD Chairman of the Board Lee Kemp. “Make a plan before you head out this New Year’s Eve and hop on the light rail or get on the bus for a safe and sober ride home.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is also joining the effort to reduce the risk of driving fatalities with its “Plan Ahead” campaign, involving billboards and a website with tips on transportation options and safe partying options.