EAGLE COUNTY — Eagle County saw 21 motorists arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the long holiday weekend.
Local law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol were part of a statewide effort to crack down on drinking and driving over the July 4 holiday.
Of those 21 arrests:
• Three were driving under the influence of drugs.
• Two were driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
• 16 were driving under the influence of alcohol.
Motorists are charged with DWAI if their blood alcohol level is between .05 and .079. Anyone with a blood alcohol level of .08 and above is charged with the more serious DUI, said Nicola Erb with the Vail Police Department and the local DUI task force coordinator.
The heavier holiday enforcement ran from Wednesday night through Monday morning, Erb said.
“Nobody died, thankfully, but that is a considerable amount of DUIs for this time of year,” Daly said.
How quickly someone becomes impaired varies from person to person. It’s hard to predict the amount necessary for a specific person to become intoxicated.
“Usually one drink per hour is what the body dissipates. Obviously, if people drink more than that rate, they’re likely to be intoxicated,” said Lt. Greg Daly, of the Avon Police Department.
Food can help, but not that much.
Alcohol and other controlled substances impair balance, coordination and your ability to follow simple directions, Daly said.
Heat is on
Across Colorado, 96 law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol were part of the increased patrols.
Among them were the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and every police department in the valley.
The crackdown began 6 p.m. Wednesday and ran through 3 a.m. Monday. It was part of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s “Heat Is On” campaign.
“Planning ahead to designate a sober driver is the easiest way to make sure you keep yourself and others out of harm’s way,” said Darrell Lingk, CDOT’s director of transportation safety at CDOT.
Last year, Colorado saw seven alcohol-related fatalities over the July 4 weekend, Lingk said. Last July, 14 Coloradans died in alcohol-related automobile crashes.
During last year’s July 4 holiday, 632 motorists were arrested in Colorado for impaired driving.
Samples sent to private lab
If you were among the unfortunate few arrested for DUI over the long holiday weekend, your sample material will go to a private lab, not the state lab run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said District Attorney Bruce Brown.
The state lab is under investigation for failing to properly train its employees and for not refrigerating samples properly.
“We are committed to making sure all DUI cases include only accurate and completely reliable courtroom evidence,” Brown said. “Blood testing is an essential step in many DUI prosecutions. Any person accused is a part of the community whose rights will be vigorously protected by this prosecutor’s office.”
The cost of a dui
Your “Get Out of Jail Free” card is still not free. The bond is $1,000 for your first offense. After calling around, just paying your attorney will cost you at least $2,500, and that’s before court costs, fines, probation and alcohol testing fees. … the list goes on and on, and so do the expenses.
“That does not include time away from work to come to court. It’s never over in an appearance or two,” said Sgt. Bill Kaufman, of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
The average cost of a DUI in Colorado is more than $10,000, according to coloradodui.com.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.
“Planning ahead to designate a sober driver is the easiest way to make sure you keep yourself and others out of harm’s way.”
CDOT director of transportation safety