This was originally posted on the Colorado Department of Public Safety website. Find the original article here.
The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice has published a report analyzing more than 27,000 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases that were filed in Colorado in 2016. It is the first report of its kind in the nation to make such a robust and thorough examination of DUI offenses.
“Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, A Report Pursuant to House Bill 17-1315,” tracks Colorado DUI offenses in 2016 from arrest through final court outcome, and also examines data from probation.
In 2017, the Colorado legislature passed HB 17-1315 directing the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Public Safety to analyze the types of DUI offenses being committed by offenders and issue an annual report. This is the first annual report issued pursuant to that legislation. The data has a one-year lag in order to allow enough time to follow most cases from their initial filing through final court disposition.
Analysts with the Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics reviewed more than 27,000 case filings with at least one DUI charge and nearly 100,000 total charges associated with these cases in order to examine data such as:
The publication also provides an overview of Colorado’s laws, enforcement and detection methods, court processes, and challenges in regards to data. For example, it’s important to note that drug-related impairment is likely under-represented in the data compared to alcohol. This is due to the fact that alcohol is faster, easier and cheaper to screen for than other drugs. Once alcohol is detected, agencies have enough evidence to reliably achieve a conviction. Therefore, agencies have not consistently spent the additional money and time to request blood testing for substances beyond alcohol.
The full study can be found online at Colorado.gov/dcj-ors. Later this month, DCJ will publish interactive tables that provide customizable visualizations of various data sets.
“The outcomes of the court cases show that our community takes DUI crimes seriously, and that there are serious consequences for driving under the influence,” said Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. “Yet despite these consequences, it is concerning that nearly 38 percent of defendants had prior DUI convictions.”
According to CDOT, almost a third of Colorado’s traffic fatalities involve drugs or alcohol. “That is why efforts by law enforcement to enforce our state’s DUI laws is so critical to safety on our roadways,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. CDOT provides funding to law enforcement to conduct 14 specific, high-visibility impaired driving enforcement periods throughout the year.
Noting that the vast majority of impaired driving defendants were males — and men in their 20s accounted for more than a third of all impaired driving cases – Director Hilkey added: “We need to work together as a community to find a way to change our culture so that men in their 20s through 40s don’t get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs. I am confident that the data in this report will help inform public policy as well as educational campaigns targeted at changing this dangerous behavior.”
Efforts are already under way. For example, as part of its 2018 “The Heat Is On campaign,” CDOT is launching a new program to incentivize the purchase of personal breathalyzers in Colorado. Through a partnership with BACtrack, breathalyzers will be offered at a 50 percent discount until Sept. 15. The goal of the program is to get people to know their actual BAC level and how long they need to wait until it is zero. More information is at codot.bactrack.com.