Mesa County was 'drunkest' in state for year of 2013

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Matt Jakopic, front left, speaks to a driver at a DUI checkpoint at 30 and Patterson roads.

The annual campaign against drunk driving during the holiday season is underway.

This year's campaign, spearheaded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, involves 57 separate law enforcement agencies and Colorado State Patrol officers across the state. It officially started earlier this month, but continues all the way to New Year's Day.

The annual effort is designed to raise awareness about not driving while intoxicated, and to get those who do off the road before trouble happens.

"Whether you're traveling to holiday festivities or hosting a party, always remember your designated driver," said Fran Lanzer, MADD Colorado executive director. "Everyone can help keep our holiday season joyous by planning ahead when celebrations include alcohol."

Over the Nov. 22-24 weekend, when the campaign kicked off, law enforcement across the state had arrested 170 drunk or drugged drivers as part of MADD's 2019 Tie One On for Safety campaign. That compares with 130 arrested the same opening weekend last year.

During last year's Thanksgiving campaign, which typically runs from a week before Thanksgiving to the Monday that follows, a total of 593 arrests were made during that 10-day period.

State officials hope those numbers are less this year.

Nationwide during this period last year, there were 1,068 drunk driving fatalities from 6 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving until New Years Day, accounting for 29% of all traffic fatalities for the entire year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Colorado, the number of drunk-driving-related deaths during that period in 2018 was 24, or 37% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, according to CDOT.

"Impaired drivers put all roadway users at risk and jeopardize CDOT's core mission to reduce the rate and severity of crashes on Colorado's roads," said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. "Law enforcement agencies will closely monitor roads across the state during this enforcement campaign to ensure everyone gets home safely."

While no local law enforcement agency is part of this campaign, the Fruita and Montrose divisions of the Colorado State Patrol are.

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