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State Conducts First Prom Season ‘Heat Is On’ DUI Crackdown
Posted By Gary Wamsley On April 9, 2010 @ 2:13 pm In Voices & Thoughts | Comments Disabled
DUI Enforcement April 10- May 23 Aims to Keep Teens Safe
DENVER, CO – Prom season is upon us and many Colorado teenagers will create memories that will last a lifetime. To help ensure those memories do not turn tragic, law enforcement agencies across the state will conduct a special prom season “Heat Is On” enforcement period beginning Saturday, April 10th through Sunday, May 23rd. The goal is to keep teenagers safe by targeting all impaired drivers, not just students attending proms.
“We want to make sure our roadways are safe this spring for teenagers celebrating prom and for everyone behind the wheel, ” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “ If drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we will arrest them regardless of their age. Prom is a time to remember, but a time to celebrate safely and legally. ”
Drinking or even possessing alcohol is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in Colorado and could result in the loss of a driver’s license, even if that person is not driving when the offense occurred. That illegal activity is magnified when it involves getting behind the wheel. Young drivers should know that an impaired driver of any age convicted of DUI will have to pay an average of $10,270, in addition to losing their driver’s license and possibly entering a treatment program. Young drivers also risk jeopardizing academic eligibility, college acceptance and current or future employment opportunities.
In Colorado, the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes by drivers under age 21 has declined in the past three years from 16 in 2007 to 12 in 2008 and eight in 2009, according to preliminary data. However, the number of people killed by drug-impaired drivers under age 21 has remained steady with nine in 2007, eight in 2008 and nine last year.
“Students are beginning to get the message that drinking and driving is dangerous, but many young people, as well as adults, don’t understand that drugs can impair their ability to drive as well, ” said Mike Nugent, manager of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “ There are a growing number of law enforcement officers across the state who are specially trained to detect when drivers are under the influence of drugs, whether they are legal or illegal drugs. ”
To help educate teenagers about the dangers of impaired driving and warn them of the special enforcement period, CDOT has developed materials for high schools across the state, which will be available to download at www.coteendriver.com. CDOT has also partnered with Al’s Formal Wear, who will include with each of its 10,000 statewide tuxedo rentals a card that stresses the message that drinking or doing drugs is illegal and could result in a DUI. In addition, CDOT is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado to hang posters in high schools statewide, reminding students of the message.
“We are proud of our students in Colorado. Most of the time, they make good decisions, ” said Emily Tompkins, executive director of MADD Colorado. “ This time of year, peer pressure is a big part of life in high school. We want to help students make smart choices and positive memories, not dangerous ones that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives – for all the wrong reasons. ”
So, what can students do to ensure a safe prom without risking a DUI or worse? Here are some tips for teenagers:
Do not get into a vehicle with a driver you think may be drunk or high even if they say they are OK to drive.
Have an emergency transportation plan ready. Have someone you can call who can pick you up if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Hopefully you won’t need to call them, but it is better to have a plan just in case.
Call *CSP (*277) or 911. If you think someone is impaired and behind the wheel, you may save a life of a friend by getting them off the road. The call can be completely anonymous.
Many schools offer an alcohol-free after party. Take advantage of these inexpensive or sometimes free opportunities.
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