Colorado New Year’s DUI Arrests Down 14% from Year Prior
New Year’s is typically one night of the year when law enforcement in Colorado witnesses a huge jump in drunk drivers. Party goers have a long night of celebrating and often make the wrong choice on how to get home. In 2014 however, that was not necessarily the case. Colorado law enforcement arrested 14% fewer drunk drivers this New Year’s holiday compared to last year, and DUI related fatalities were down as well. This has officials hopeful that Coloradoans may finally be finding safer and alternative ways to get home.
The Heat Is On
The Heat Is On is a grant funded program that allows for more officers to be on patrol during times when it is suspected there will be more drunk drivers on the road. New Years is obviously targeted, but other days include certain holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, big sports events or concerts, fairs and city/town festivals, and essentially any time when it is expected that people might be out drinking. During the summer, you can typically expect more officers to be on patrol on the weekend as many Coloradoans want to go out and enjoy themselves.
Officials believe The Heat is On program is to thank, in part, for the reduced number of DUI arrests this New Year’s. The program has been running for a number of years and no doubt you’ve seen their advertisements on billboard and television. Click it or Ticket and 100 days of summer HEAT are the first two slogans to come to mind. Officials think that due to the awareness of the program Coloradoans have finally realized the strides law enforcement officers are making to catch suspected drunk drivers. This awareness perhaps has caused people to be more cautious and careful after they’ve been drinking, and as a result have found other means of getting home.
2013 Saw Fewer DUI Related Arrests
In 2013 overall, 28% fewer arrests were made for DUIs in Colorado compared to the year prior. This is a rather large number which makes some officials hopeful that the job they are performing is going well. Based on the percentage alone you would have a difficult time disagreeing, and no doubt if 28% fewer arrests equated to their being 28% fewer drunk drivers, officials would have something to celebrate over. However it is uncertain and unclear whether that is really the case.
There is no way to really gauge exactly how many drunk drivers there are at any given time, but many would argue fewer DUI arrests can mean any number of things. For starters, numerous municipalities in Colorado have reduced their budget for law enforcement; Louisville is an example of that. With a lower budget, there are fewer officers on the road (even with grant funded programs), with fewer officers more drunk drivers can likely go unseen. This would easily result in fewer arrests of any kind, let alone DUIs. Drunk drivers also may have simply learned where law officers set up DUI check points or know how to navigate where fewer officers are seen. Finally, what if officers are simply letting people go that they shouldn’t be?
The point being argued against this is simply that just because a simple statistic is known does not mean the whole story is told. Having arrested fewer drunk drivers does not mean fewer drunk drivers exist. It certainly hints towards that fact, but before officials start patting themselves on the back they should make sure all their information is complete and accurate. This is important because the policies this state creates and the budgets individual municipalities are given are dependent upon information and statistics such as this. It would be an error to simply jump to conclusions.
So What Does This Mean
So what is our conclusion? It is certainly good to hear fewer arrests are being made for drunk driving. Hopefully people do finally realize the danger and risk of driving while intoxicated and as a result, fewer people get behind the wheel drunk. The fear is that these statistics are being touted by officials when really the statistics themselves do not speak to anything of weight. There is a lot you can assume from these percentages, and the speculation can turn any which number of ways… for good or bad.
The greatest reason to be skeptical is due to the stark difference in DUIs from the year before. It’s hard to imagine that in the course of a year, with nothing really new occurring which would cause the change, so many people would decide to not drive drunk when every other year prior that was simply not the case. Was there a single ad that scared thousands of people enough to not drive drunk? Maybe… and hopefully so.
It just seems that wouldn’t be the case. Old habits die hard, and many people aren’t quick to change even when at risk of being arrested or going to jail. No doubt a greater number of people get away with driving drunk than those who are caught. If that is indeed the case, telling the public there were fewer DUI arrests is actually a bad thing and means law officers are not doing their job properly. But we certainly can’t expect to hear that, why would they construe their own statistics in that way? That said we should most definitely make those considerations ourselves. As the joke goes, 33% of statistics are made up. This is not to say the DUI statistics are false, simply that how the information is framed and portrayed may be a little skewed.
At The Clark Law Firm, we understand that the law can be a tricky course to navigate. If you need help finding your way and have been convicted of a DUI in Boulder Colorado, or are concerned with Drug Offenses, in need of Felony Defense or Misdemeanor Defense, please be sure to contact us immediately. We will hit the ground running to make sure you have the best Boulder Attorney and legal coverage possible!