Colorado DUI Arrests During “Enforcement Periods” Up Sharply in 2017

In 2017, a total of 10,359 drivers were arrested during 14 law enforcement periods. That’s way up from the same time span in 2016, when 7,279 drivers were arrested during 12 enforcement periods.

Why were there so many more DUI arrests in Colorado in a one-year time span?

Below, we’re going to explore that question in more detail and offer some possible answers, as well as why it’s so important to get good legal help if you find yourself accused of driving drunk.

Why Are More People Being Arrested for DUIs in Colorado?

More Patrols Means More Arrests

Official reports indicate that 226 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol in 2017, and estimate that 33 percent of all traffic fatalities had substance-impaired drivers as a factor.

Because of this, the state of Colorado is making a push to arrest more drivers in more frequent enforcement periods. Case-in-point: as mentioned above, 2016 featured 12 enforcement periods, while 2017 had 14.

Quite simply, more cops out on the roads for more enforcement periods lead to a higher number of arrests.

More People are Driving Intoxicated

While it might be nice to chalk up the extra arrests solely to more enforcement, the numbers were also up year-to-year for same-day enforcement. Some examples:

  • Last fall, police made 375 DUI arrests over the Halloween holiday. That was a significant increase over the 325 arrests made during the same period in 2016. The Colorado State Patrol made the highest number of arrests, followed by police departments in Colorado Springs and Denver.
  • During the recent New Year’s holiday, police increased their patrols between Dec. 29, 2017 and Jan. 2, 2018 as part of the Heat is On campaign. They made 366 arrests for DUI, as compared to 279 arrests the year before.

It’s Not Marijuana… or Is It?

In March of 2016, marijuana was related to 17.8 percent of DUI citations, and in March of 2017, it was related to 16.4 percent of DUI citations. In fact, citations for marijuana-related DUIs decreased by 33.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of 2016. In 2016, 232 people were cited between January and March, and in 2017, 155 people were cited in those months. The citations for combined alcohol and marijuana use are also showing a downward trend.

However, the number of marijuana users who drive high is concerning. Worse, a Colorado Department of Transportation survey indicated that 55 percent of marijuana users think it’s safe to drive after they have used marijuana.

Denver DUI Attorney

The state has tried to curb high driving by launching the “Drive High, Get a DUI” publicity campaign, but half of marijuana users who have used in the past month admit to driving high. This statistic is one that has motivated police to crack down harder and enact more enforcement periods. They are encouraging people to pre-arrange rides home to cut down on DUI citations.

Understanding Colorado’s DUI Laws

With arrests on the rise, it’s important to understand the DUI laws and penalties in Colorado. Here’s a breakdown of what you can face if you are convicted for a DUI.

Blood alcohol concentration

The legal limit in Colorado is 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. An aggravated DUI charge will apply for a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17 percent or higher. Any driver under the age of 21 will face penalties for a blood alcohol concentration between 0.02 and 0.05 percent.

Refusing to take a breath or blood test at your time of arrest can result in having your driver’s license revoked for up to 12 months.


If you are convicted, you can face several different penalties. You can lose your license for nine months if you are a first offender, one year after a second offense, and two years after a third offense.

You will be required to participate in alcohol treatment programs. For two or more offenses, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, which will prohibit vehicle operation if your blood alcohol concentration is over a certain level.

Get Legal Assistance

As you can see, the penalties for a DUI conviction can be life-changing for a long period of time. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable Denver DUI attorney who can help you fight your charges.

With so many changes in the past few years, you need a lawyer who is both experienced and well-informed. You need someone who will study the details of your case to form a solid defense for you.

These details include prior history of criminal activity, blood alcohol concentration test Colorado DUI Defense Lawyerresults, and how the arrest was conducted. These details can provide the information needed to reduce your charges or eliminate them.

The sooner you contact a skilled attorney, the more time he or she will have to build a strong defense for you. Call today for a free consultation.


About the Author: 

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.