"The heat is on" this weekend in counties across the state, as the Colorado Department of Transportation gears up its DUI enforcement program that bears that name. Because Halloween this year falls on a Saturday, this weekend is one of The Heat Is On program’s twelve enforcement periods of 2015, meaning that CDOT has provided additional grants to over seventy law enforcement agencies, including the Denver Police Department, for extra DUI patrols, checkpoints and, in the case of Denver County, a mobile blood-alcohol testing van.
Last year, there were 329 statewide DUI arrests on Halloween. Officials are hoping that number will drop this year, but aren’t taking any chances.
“We’re asking Colorado motorists who choose to drink to do so responsibly and help keep our roadways safe while celebrating Halloween,” Colonel Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, told CDOT. “But they should know if they choose to drive impaired, they are a danger to themselves and others on our roadways, and they will be arrested.”
Do the Responsible Thing
There are a number of things that you can do to celebrate Halloween safely this weekend. Arapahoe County DUI attorney R. Jake Johnson offers this collection of tips:
• Plan ahead. Plan way ahead.
• If you are going to be drinking with a group, make sure you have a sober driver.
• If you are traveling alone, get a taxi or friend to drive you, or take public transportation.
• If you spot a friend about to make a bad decision, take their keys. They might get mad, but it’s better to have an angry friend than a jailed one.
CDOT recommends downloading its own app called R-U-Buzzed for Android or iPhone. It estimates blood-alcohol concentration, and will even call a cab for you. CDOT also offers $20 discounts for Lyft or Uber rides for first-time users of those apps, using these promotion codes: Lyft- CDOTRideSafe; Uber- NODUICO.
Knowing the Law
In case you do come across a DUI checkpoint this weekend, here’s some information provided by the Law Office of Christopher Cessna about how the checkpoints work in Colorado:
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Any driver selected by law enforcement for a sobriety check can expect the officer to lean into the car through the driver's window in order to detect any odors from alcohol or drugs. The officer will also ask the driver if he or she has consumed any alcohol or drugs. During the questioning, the officer will be checking whether there is the smell of alcohol or drugs on the driver's breath, if his speech is slurred, if there are open containers of alcoholic beverages, or if the driver's motor skills seem too slow. The officer will also observe whether or not the driver's eyes are bloodshot, glassy, or excessively watering.
Any suspicion of intoxication by the police officer will trigger blood tests and field sobriety tests.
Under the standard of treating every driver/vehicle the same, police decide prior to starting the roadblock what sequence will be used for stopping a vehicle, such as stopping every car, or every third car, or a similar procedure. There will be an authorizing order for the establishment of the roadblock, and the procedure to be implemented will be noted on the order. However, during the checkpoint procedure the standard being used can be changed. If the police were stopping every other car, they could change it to every car, or every fourth car, etc. The change must be documented with the reason why.
It’s also important to know that Colorado laws may hold you responsible for providing alcohol to minors who later face a DUI charge. Again, information from R. Jake Johnson of DUI Defense Matters:
This idea is known as social host liability. In the state of Colorado, social hosts cannot be held liable for serving alcohol to a guest, even if the guest is clearly intoxicated, on one condition: the person is 21 or older.
Social host liability does come into play when minors are served alcohol, or even when minors are simply given a setting in which to drink.
More information about CDOT’s Halloween weekend crackdown, including its own safety tips, can be found at heatisoncolorado.com