The Colorado Department of Transportation mounted its first DUI enforcement campaign January 14-17. Called The Heat is On Winter Blitz, the initiative also included Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement. There was a 16% uptick in traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers in 2021 for a total of 246 deaths, including 15 last December. While this year’s numbers are not yet released, the January 15-25 campaign in 2021 involved 391 impaired driving arrests by 94 law enforcement agencies. Over the holidays, the most recent enforcement period netted 311 arrests for impaired driving, which was down from 349 in 2020. The highest number of arrests were in Colorado Springs (40) and Denver (29).
What to know about The Heat Is On
Drivers out on the roads over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in 2022 may have seen sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and more officers on duty. This is the first of 16 high visibility enforcement periods, all called The Heat is On, which are tied to national holidays and large public events. All will include the above measures. Go to HeatIsOnColorado.com for more information.
Things to remember if encountering a sobriety checkpoint
Some question the validity of sobriety checkpoints because it would seem to ignore the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow them more than three decades ago. It should be noted that some police departments publish where they will hold checkpoints, so this is something to check. Law enforcement generally stops every third or fifth vehicle unless a driver clearly demonstrates intoxication before being stopped.
Officers are looking for:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Fumbling fingers
- Open containers of alcohol or drugs
- Alcoholic or marijuana odors
- Oral admission of recent drinking or drug use
Drivers can still fight the charges
Regardless of the evidence, defendants can still fight charges. Generally speaking, this involves procedural irregularities in the stop or arrest. The defendant can still call upon an experienced DUI attorney to help ensure that the officer did not violate the driver’s rights.