DUI arrests in El Paso County increased nearly 160% since last year — proof of the efficacy of the newly reestablished Traffic Enforcement Unit, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Between April 1 and May 17, deputies arrested 604 impaired drivers compared with 360 this time last year. Deputies report they’ve seen the largest surge in arrests among those using marijuana and other drugs, the news release said.

The Sheriff’s Office and its partners hope to amp up enforcement even more by the end of the year, sending a message to those on the road that if they “drive impaired in El Paso County you will get caught.”

El Paso County led the state in the most traffic-related deaths last year, with 81, followed by 63 in Weld County and 60 in Denver County.

El Paso County also has the most impaired driver-related fatalities, though the Sheriff’s Office did not have readily available statistics. State Patrol did not have data, either.

Seven people have died in traffic-related fatalities in the county and 16 in Colorado Springs this year. At this time last year, only four people had been killed in the county. Seventeen died in the city.

In Colorado Springs, 26 of last year’s fatal crashes — more than half — involved drugs or alcohol, police records show.

Statewide, agencies were successful in removing more than 1,700 impaired drivers off the roads between April 5 and May 13, a drop from last year’s 1,932 arrests during the same timeframe. Colorado Springs led in the number of arrests with 174, followed by 170 by the Denver Police Department and 91 by the Aurora Police Department, Colorado Department of Transportation data show.

Colorado State Patrol troopers made 210 arrests.

Twitter: @lizmforster

Phone: 636-0193

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