Drivers in Colorado will see an increase in DUI enforcement this month as motorcyclists across the country make their yearly pilgrimage to the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which began Friday in Sturgis, S.D.
Eighty-six law enforcement agencies across the state, including the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department, have joined Colorado State Patrol in ramping up DUI patrols for Colorado Department of Transportation's The Heat Is On campaign, aimed at preventing impaired driving in Colorado. The 14-day campaign ends Aug. 20.
“Our job is to improve the safety of Colorado’s roadways, but we can’t do it alone,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a statement Friday. “Especially during the weeks of increased motorcycle traffic surrounding the Sturgis Rally, increased impaired driving enforcement with our partners across the state can help protect all motorists.”
"It is our sincerest hope that this increased enforcement period will make El Paso County safer for our residents," El Paso County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby said.
During the 2019 Sturgis Rally enforcement period, 399 impaired motorists were arrested in Colorado.
CDOT crash data as of Wednesday shows there have been 37 fatal vehicle crashes in El Paso County so far this year, killing 38 people. Ten of those fatal vehicle crashes have been impaired-related, and 10 people have died in impaired-related crashes already this year.
In Colorado Springs, 18 fatal vehicle crashes were reported and 19 people have died in vehicle-related crashes so far in 2020. Additionally, there have been six impaired-related fatal vehicle crashes, which have killed six people as of Wednesday.
Statewide, 30.5% of crashes in 2020 have been impaired-related crashes, CDOT data shows.
CDOT reported there have been 73 motorcycle-related fatalities in Colorado in 2020, a 10% increase from this time last year.
“Motorcyclists are already at a higher safety risk when they hit the road and riding impaired only increases that risk while also putting other motorists in danger,” said State Patrol chief Col. Matthew Packard.
Anyone who consumes alcohol or marijuana is encouraged to refrain from riding impaired, Packard said.
During the 10-day Summer Strikeout DUI enforcement period that ran from July 17-27, 276 impaired motorists were arrested, CDOT records show. That was a decrease from 490 arrests made during the same period last year.
CSPD made 54 arrests during that campaign. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office made 37 arrests and CSP made 24 arrests.