DUI checkpoint planned for weekend | SteamboatToday.com

DUI checkpoint planned for weekend

Gary E. Salazar

— For the second year in a row, law enforcement agencies in Routt County are teaming up to make Halloween a nightmare for people who drive drunk.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department, Routt County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol will be conducting a sobriety and seatbelt checkpoint Saturday night.

The checkpoint will start at 9 p.m. and end at 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers will be stopping eastbound traffic on U.S. 40 between Trafalgar and Anglers drives.

“Officers will be checking for indications of alcohol as well as seatbelt use,” said Steamboat Springs Sgt. Joel Rae, who is coordinating the checkpoint.

Drivers suspected of driving under the influence will be asked to pull over to the side of the road for further investigation.

Law enforcement agencies chose Saturday because of Halloween.

“The conjunction of Halloween, people drinking and everyone crawling from bar to bar is why we are doing it this weekend,” Rae said. “We are encouraging people to have a designated driver, take the free bus or utilize the taxi service.”

The agencies teamed up with a checkpoint the same weekend a year ago. Because of the checkpoint, officers made nine drunken-driving arrests.

Of the nine arrests, the average blood-alcohol content was 0.082. Every driver arrested was charged with driving while ability impaired, which has a lower alcohol threshold than being arrested for driving under the influence.

A person driving a vehicle with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.099 can be arrested for DWAI. A person with a BAC of 0.10 or higher faces the more serious charge of DUI.

However, drivers with a BAC in the range of a DWAI are a significant threat, said Steamboat Springs Officer Guy Lumsden.

“The first skills people lose when they become impaired are thinking skills and being able to process information,” Lumsden said. “To reach the DWAI level, all it takes is two drinks in an hour by a male. It is less for females.”

Authorities decided to include the seatbelt check for the checkpoint because of a recent survey. Steamboat Springs officers recently observed 253 cars traveling through downtown.

About 46 percent of the vehicles had occupants that were buckled up, Rae said.

According to state law, children under the age of 4 are required to be in a child safety seat. Children 16 and younger are also required to wear a seatbelt, as well as adults.

“We will probably give warnings for adult seatbelt violations,” Rae said. “But we will have zero tolerance for children not wearing seatbelts.”

Rae is hopeful the checkpoint will not result in anyone being arrested for suspicion of drunken driving.

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