At least 218 traffic deaths involved impairment in 2023
It’s officially the season of winter fun and powder ski days, but motorists are encouraged not to start their year on a downhill slope toward a DUI. From Jan. 11–24, the Colorado Department of Transportation will support the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and 69 local law enforcement agencies for the Winter Blitz DUI enforcement period. Patrols across the state will remove impaired drivers from roads and encourage Coloradans to begin the new year safely. During enforcement periods, drivers may see sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement.
Based on preliminary data, there were 218 impaired-related crash fatalities on Colorado roads in 2023, down from 286 last year. The 2023 number will likely increase slightly while data is finalized. The counties with the highest number of fatalities involving an impaired driver in 2023 were Arapahoe (26), Adams (22), El Paso (21) and Jefferson (20). Adams County has ranked among the top three counties for impaired-related fatalities in the state since 2019. Additionally, the Colorado Springs police department reported 740 DUI arrests in 2023, the most of any other police department in the state. CSP reported 1,101 DUI arrests across all 16 high-visibility enforcement periods.
“Last year’s Winter Blitz enforcement period resulted in over 370 DUI arrests,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Don’t risk losing your time, money, license, or even your life because of a DUI. Even if you think you’re okay to drive, it’s always better to plan for a sober ride. All motorists, passengers, and pedestrians are counting on your decisions this year.”
Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal, not just alcohol. Most Colorado State Patrol troopers have specialized training in drug detection, known as ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement). All Colorado law enforcement agencies can administer alcohol and drug toxicology tests to drivers following a fatal DUI crash. Additionally, there are over 120 Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in Colorado trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.
“Even if you think you’re okay to drive, it’s always better to get a ride with a sober driver,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Getting behind the wheel while under the influence puts others in danger and greatly increases the risk of a crash. There’s never a good reason to drive impaired.”
The recent New Year’s Eve Weekend enforcement period concluded with 221 arrests across 82 participating agencies. The agencies with the highest arrests were the Denver Police Department (26), Thornton Police Department (15), and Colorado Springs Police Department (11). CSP reported 36 arrests. The next DUI enforcement period will be Super Bowl Weekend from Feb. 8-14.
The Heat Is On campaign runs throughout the year, with 16 specific high-visibility impaired driving enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large public events. Enforcement periods can include sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement. Find more details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals, and safety tips, at HeatIsOnColorado.com.
More information about DUI laws in Colorado can be found at NoDUIColorado.org. Learn more about CDOT’s dedication to keeping Colorado roads safe, including impaired driving enforcement objectives, arrest data, and safety information at codot.gov/safety.
The Colorado Department of Transportation aims to provide the best multi-modal transportation system that most effectively and safely moves people, goods, and information. CDOT maintains more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,400 bridges, and 35 mountain passes. Our team of employees works tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. CDOT leverages partnerships with various private and public organizations and operates Bustang, an interregional express bus service. Find more details at codot.gov.