In a surprising move, Colorado’s Governor Bill Ritter plans to divert more than $1.3 million intended to fight drunken driving to help fill the state’s budget gap estimated at $318 million.
A recent Denver Post article stated that the $1.3 million, which is raised by a surcharge imposed on everyone convicted of a DUI offense in Colorado, has been used to “pay overtime for cops working the ‘Heat Is On’ crackdowns on long holiday weekends.”
This is particularly relevant as the recent Labor Day Weekend statistics are being tabulated and due to be released shortly.
For Colorado, their planned campaign for Labor Day weekend was to be the last funded by those grants if the legislature approves Ritter’s plan, and as of Tuesday, Sept. 8th, the decision has yet to be made.
As of now, in Colorado everyone convicted of an alcohol- related traffic offense pays a $90 fine, roughly 1/3 of which goes to the Transportation Department to fund grants for DUI enforcement.
The money is then dispersed throughout the local law enforcement agencies. For 2009 a total of $1.4 million was available to 56 police and sheriff’s departments. Nearly $375,000 is expected to be left after the Labor Day enforcement campaign.
This being the money that Ritter reportedly froze in an executive order.
Larimer County sheriff’s Sgt. Gerald Baker, who is the head of the department’s traffic unit was quoted as saying, “It’s going to have an impact on our numbers, and it’s a little too early to say whether it’s going to have an impact on injury accidents or fatalities.”
In 2008, within the state of Colorado, nearly 40% of all DUI related traffic fatalities occurred within a 24 hour window of a holiday; the same time period which is now under jeopardy of losing heightened patrolling.
On Sunday, millions of people across the country will watch the Super Bowl. The event has evolved into more than just a football game, it’s a shared pop culture event.
There are also parties. Lots of Super Bowl parties. Bars and business, friends and family alike will be hosting and attending Super Bowl parties.
The police are well aware of this, and there are news reports from across the country – from Colorado to Pennsylvania – about local law enforcement units increasing DUI patrols around the Super Bowl.
In fact, many police departments increased DUI patrols around the NFL playoffs. So you can be sure they’ll be watching for drunk drivers this Sunday.
What can you do?
1. Plan ahead. Your Super Bowl party plans should include more than where you’re going and how much you’ll be eating. Make sure you have a safe ride to and from your party. Any safe ride will do: Designated driver, cab, public transportation.
2. Know your state DUI laws. There’s a lot on the line if you drink and drive. Many states now require ignition interlock devices for first offenders. If you refuse a breathalyzer test you may face immediate license suspension.
3. If you are arrested for DUI, contact a DUI lawyer immediately. A lawyer will know the DUI laws in your state, and answer any questions you have about the long-term impact of a DUI.
Be safe this weekend and enjoy the big game!
Many have argued that DUI should be just one reason to cite a driver for driving when he shouldn’t be. Over-the-road truck driving have long been required to get enough sleep.
Now, states are considering laws against using technology while driving.
According to USA Today, states across the country are passing bills banning the use of technology, such as fax machines, DVD players, and video games, while driving. Most bills mandate a fine between $50 and $600.
In California, 3,200 drivers have been pulled over for watching DVDs and TVs since 2003.
Washington recently banned texting while driving. “TWD” carries a $101 fine. Several months ago, in Colorado, a bicyclist was killed by a driver who was texting. Strangely enough, the Colorado legislature has not passed a no texting bill.