CDOT Empowers Drivers to Make Smart Decisions
Alcohol continues to be a significant factor in automobile accidents in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an alcohol-impaired traffic death occurred every 48 minutes in 2017.
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Across the Country
For research purposes, alcohol impairment is considered a factor in any accident that involves a motorist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or more, the legal definition of impaired driving in all states but Utah. On December 31, 2018 (just in time for New Year’s Eve), Utah lowered the state’s legal limit to 0.05 and instituted zero-tolerance laws barring drivers under age 21 from drinking and driving. The other states generally have a BAC of 0.02 in place for drivers under 21.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the number of drunk driving fatalities in the nation is down 50 percent since the organization was founded in 1980. MADD also reports that about one in seven teenagers binge drinks, despite the fact that just one in 100 parents believe that their teen takes part in the practice.
To make those who sell and serve alcohol more responsible for their conduct, 42 states along with Washington, D.C., have laws in place to hold commercial servers legally responsible for the harms caused by a driver impaired by alcohol. Thirty-nine states have passed laws or have precedent in place that allows social hosts who serve liquor to those who subsequently cause accidents to be held liable for injuries and deaths that occur.
According to Responsibility.org, 177 people died in drunk driving accidents in Colorado in 2017. Texas had the highest number of drunk driving fatalities at 1,468, and Washington, D.C., the lowest at just 16. The total number of fatalities related to drunk driving for the nation was 10,874.
Drunk Driving Auto Accidents in Colorado
Alcohol-impaired driving is a serious problem in Colorado. Almost 60 drivers are arrested for impaired driving in Colorado each day, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). To help combat the problem and urge motorists to drive sober, CDOT is partnering with BACtrack to offer a 50 percent discount toward the purchase of a Breathalyzer from July to September or while supplies last. The devices can typically provide an accurate BAC estimate and even track when the BAC will return to zero from the BACtrack smartphone app.
While it is against the law to drive in Colorado “in the slightest degree” with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, the offense is considered driving while ability impaired (DWAI), a lesser offense than driving under the influence (DUI), which is driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above. Colorado used to be one of a handful of states without a felony DUI standard, allowing people with multiple DUIs to avoid jail time. But in 2017, a new law went into effect requiring anyone convicted of a felony DUI to serve jail time ranging from several days to six years, depending on the offender’s DWAI or DUI history.