District Attorney Bruce Brown decries number of DUI fatalities
EAGLE COUNTY — Drunk driving deaths across Colorado jumped more in October than any other month, says the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Statewide, Colorado saw 24 alcohol related motor vehicle deaths in October 2012, up from 15 the year before. Six of those were during the days surrounding Halloween. This October’s numbers are still rolling in, but data so far say 32 people died on Colorado’s highways, and seven of those deaths were alcohol related , the Department of Transportation said.
More than 1,250 people in our four-county area are busted every year for drunk driving and they’re all serious, says District Attorney Bruce Brown.
The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol is rolling out their latest crackdown on impaired drivers, running through early November. In 2012, 570 drivers were arrested for DUI during the same enforcement period.
“These fatalities are much more than a statistic to us. They represent lives lost unnecessarily to impaired driving,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Department of Transportation’s office of transportation safety.
High price of high times
Besides jail time, if you’re arrested for DUI you could face fines totaling more than $10,270. Even first-time offenders can lose their driver’s license and have an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for up to two years, Lingk said.
Few impaired drivers end up killing someone, but Maverick Bain did. He was sentenced for his second DUI and for vehicular homicide which killed Breckenridge resident Blake Roberts.
“If you walk into any courthouse any day of the week, you will see numerous people facing charges of drinking and drugging while driving,” Brown said.
It’s dangerous, but that message does not seem to be resonating, and the problem is not being solved, Brown said. Bain’s case is more tragic than most, Brown said.
Bain, 24, was at the wheel of his Jeep when a rollover accident threw Roberts, 21, from the vehicle and killed him. Bain told investigators he had consumed alcohol and drugs before he climbed behind the wheel.
Prosecutors asked for six years in prison; Judge Mark Thompson sentenced Bain to four, saying it was Roberts’ family and their willingness to forgive Bain that persuaded him to hand down the lighter sentence.
Lifestyle ending in death
One of Bain’s friends wrote to prosecutors that drinking and doing drugs is common in the resort atmosphere and the large population of 20-somethings. The friend asked prosecutors to make Roberts’ circumstances known as a warning to others.
During sentencing, Bain addressed Roberts’ family, saying he hopes he can do something to help deter others from making the same poor choice he did.
“I think that when people view somebody else’s problem, most times they can’t relate, and they don’t think it would ever happen to them. No one ever thinks that something like this can happen to them,” Bain said.
Brown said he understands young people come to the high country to have fun, and said he was once one of them. He urges them to learn to drink responsibly and within the limits of the law, and if they can’t stop, to get help from Alcoholics Anonymous or other organizations.
“Blake Roberts was a young man with a wonderful future, and he lost his life senselessly. Now, another young man has had his future irrevocably altered by going to prison,” Brown said. “Don’t be the next one to suffer such a tragedy.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.