While the 386 bust total seems high, it's actually lower than during the same period last year -- and that's true when it comes to alcohol-related fatalities, too. But a Colorado Department of Transportation rep says preliminary figures can be deceiving.
The Halloween enforcement period got underway at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30, and ended at 3 a.m. Monday, November 4. During those days, 386 DUI arrests were made statewide, as opposed to 570 in 2012.
Aurora led the way in contributing to this year's sum, with 53 arrests, followed by Denver (52), Colorado Springs (29) and Adams County (28).
Moreover, CDOT notes that seven alcohol-related fatalities have been reported as taking place this October, with none over the Halloween enforcement period. In 2012, the digits were far worse, with 24 fatalities during October, six of them in the Halloween enforcement period.Positive news? Maybe -- but maybe not, as CDOT spokeswoman Emily Wilfong explains.
For instance, last year, 96 agencies participated in the Halloween enforcement period, while the number this year is 71 thus far. Moreover, agencies don't always immediately report DUI arrests or even alcohol-related fatalities until weeks or sometimes months later.
Indeed, Wilfong points out that last year at this time, "there was no data about alcohol-related fatalities, and then more popped up" -- six of them, as noted above. As such, Wilfong says she's "positive" the DUI arrest numbers will go up, and the fatality numbers are likely to do so, as well.
Indeed, previous statistics have suggested that "Octobers are a really high alcohol-related-fatality month," Wilfong says -- so much so that "we've been looking at ways to address it. We do our biggest push over the summer months, but we may want to tweak that and do more in October."
Still, CDOT number crunchers may not have the final word about DUIs and alcohol-related fatalities last month until the middle of next year at the earliest. As she notes, "the 2012 data doesn't close until the end of 2013, and people are still sending in reports for last year. Some of them live in small towns and they send us handwritten stuff through the mail. Not e-mail -- the regular mail. So it can take a while."
That's why when the folks at CDOT see lower DUI numbers, "we don't always think there are less people driving impaired." And 386 DUI arrests in just a few days remains nothing to celebrate.
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More from our News archive circa September: "1,342 DUI busts in Labor Day enforcement period, nine alcohol-related deaths."