Colorado’s Heat Is On initiative is far from over, even as the summer winds down. Summertime traditionally sees an uptick in the number of car accidents – and DUI arrests – as more people get out to enjoy the outdoors, attend barbecues, head to the mountains or get in that last vacation before the school year starts again.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), DUI enforcement remains a top priority as most people start looking forward to the fall. The Heat Is On, a national DUI enforcement campaign used by several states during the warmer months, remains in effect around major holidays and events this summer, including the upcoming motorcycle Sturgis Rally from August 3 to 13.
July 4 saw decrease in DUI arrests
CDOT reports that The Heat Is On initiative issued 337 drunk driving citations during the week of July 4 (enforcement activities from June 29 through July 5). This was down from 394 arrests made during the same time last year. Of those arrests, Denver came in second in terms of highest number of municipal arrests made, with 34 DUI arrests. Colorado State Patrol naturally obtained the most, with 74.
Protecting your rights from increased DUI enforcement
Obviously, the best way to protect yourself from the adverse effects of a DUI stop is to plan a sober ride. However, alcohol affects everyone differently, so you may think you’re ok to drive when you may not be. If you are stopped by law enforcement during these increased DUI enforcement periods (or at any time), remember the following:
- Stay calm. Jumpy or nervous behavior can only heighten an officer’s suspicion.
- Admit nothing. Answer the officer’s questions honestly, but if you feel like your answer might be problematic, you can say, “I would like to invoke my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.”
- Comply with reasonable requests. An officer may ask you to step out of the car and perhaps take a portable breath test or perform roadside tests. You are within your rights to refuse such tests, but doing so may have legal consequences. Furthermore, unnecessary struggle could lead to additional charges or only escalate the situation.
- Pay attention. Officers must follow established procedures when they suspect a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For example, they must inform you of your express consent rights and your Miranda rights when placing you under arrest (“you have the right to remain silent,” etc.). If they do not follow these details exactly, it could undermine the case against you.
As noted above, officials are planning another Heat Is On campaign for the Sturgis Rally in just over a week. According to CDOT, the enforcement initiative cited 552 impaired drivers last summer during the Rally. Labor Day weekend is also likely to see increased DUI enforcement, being the second-most deadly holiday for drivers after Memorial Day weekend.
If you find yourself stopped by CSP or at a DUI checkpoint in Denver as you celebrate these final days of summer, follow the above guidelines – then come talk to us about your case.