An ongoing pandemic and shuttered bars have made no dent in the state's DUI numbers.
On the contrary, Colorado State Patrol says impairment-related deaths in the first part of 2020 were double what they were in 2019. The time frame troopers are looking at is the period between Jan. 1-April 30 -- which includes the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the stay-at-home order was in effect.
During those months, State Patrol says alcohol and marijuana-related crashes are up 32 percent from that time last year. And unfortunately, it's not just crashes involving impairment that are up; deadly DUI crashes have also doubled.“It’s very hard for me to understand that, especially now that bars aren’t open, everybody is home,” DUI crash survivor Brittany Lamb told 11 News sister station KCNC.
Lamb was seriously injured in a DUI crash 23 years ago, which killed her aunt. The decision to drive drunk inadvertently claimed even more victims when a medical helicopter responding to the crash hit a power line, killing the pilot, two nurses and the driver himself.
"You know, that’s the scary part, is anybody can make a decision, and not only will it affect their own life, but somebody else’s life," Lamb said.
State Patrol says it's unclear what exactly is leading to the rise in these crashes, other than poor decision-making.
“We know life is different for all of us right now. You might think that stay-at-home orders would mean fewer tragedies on our roads,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “While overall traffic fatalities might be down, injury and fatal crashes caused by drug and alcohol use are up. We know that even during the pandemic, drunk and drugged driving haven’t stopped. Our efforts to remove impaired drivers from our roads haven't stopped either.”
Colorado Executive Director of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Fran Lanzer believes the lighter traffic may be lulling some drivers into a false sense of security.
“I think it has a lot to do with the speed. “There’s not as much traffic, so people are driving a lot faster in general, and again, when you combine drunk or drugged driving with that high rate of speed it’s very dangerous," Lanzer told KCNC.
In addition to the human toll, impaired driving can come with a hefty price tag for offenders to the tune of thousands of dollars in fines, as well as license suspension and jail time.
“There’s a lot of options right now. You could spend $20 on an Uber instead of $30,000 on a DUI," Lamb said.
READ FULL STORY HERE by By Lindsey Grewe, Published: May. 26, 2020 at 7:55 AM MDT
DENVER (CBS4) – In the age of coronavirus-related restrictions, traffic is down, but the roads may not necessarily be safer. According to Colorado State Patrol, impairment-related deaths in the first part of 2020 were double what they were for the same period in 2019.
With Memorial Day weekend well underway, CSP and Mothers Against Drunk Driving both urged everyone to think twice before getting behind the wheel while impaired. Typically, troopers see an increase in impaired driving-related incidents during the annual holiday weekend.
“We’re really concerned with what’s going on on our highways as things are opening up, as we’re here with Memorial Day weekend,” said Fran Lanzer, State Executive Director for MADD Colorado.
So far this year, state troopers have already been busy responding to impaired driving incidents. Between January 1 and April 30, 2020, marijuana-related DUIs increased 15% compared to the same time period in 2019. Marijuana and alcohol involved DUIs also increased by 32%.
None of the stats are more troubling than fatal DUI and DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) crashes, which doubled. In the first quarter of 2019, troopers responded to 12 impairment-related deaths, and so far in 2020, they’ve responded to 24.
“It’s very hard for me to understand that, especially now that bars aren’t open, everybody is home,” said Brittany Lamb, a DUI crash survivor who shares her story to spread awareness.
In 1997, Lamb and her aunt were driving home from a play, when a drunk driver crossed the center line on Santa Fe Drive and hit their car head on.
“She was killed in the crash and I was severely injured,” Lamb described.
On that day, the driver’s actions had further consequences though. Later, he, two nurses, and a pilot died when the medical helicopter hit a nearby power line.
“You know, that’s the scary part is anybody can make a decision and not only will it affect their own life, but somebody else’s life,” She said.
Twenty-three years later, Lamb hopes people hear her story and think twice before driving impaired.
Her message, along with MADD and CSP’s, is to plan ahead if you are going to be drinking.
“There’s a lot of options right now,” Lamb said. “You could spend $20 on an Uber instead of $30,000 on a DUI.”
“There’s really no excuse for anybody to drink and drive,” said Sgt. Blake White with CSP. “Even if rideshare is not an option, get a sober ride or don’t drink if you have to drive.”
So far, state patrol says it’s unclear what exactly is leading to the rise in impairment-related incidents, but Sgt. White said all cases have involved “poor decision making.”
Fran Lanzer, with MADD Colorado, has another theory.
“I think it has a lot to do with the speed,” Lanzer said. “There’s not as much traffic, so people are driving a lot faster in general, and again, when you combine drunk or drugged driving with that high rate of speed it’s very dangerous.”
If you are a victim or survivor of an impairment-related crash, MADD Colorado offers support at no charge. You can reach the 24/7 hotline at 877-MADD-HELP.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE by By Conor McCue, May 24, 2020 at 10:49 pm
DENVER (KDVR) — Concerning new numbers show fatal DUI crashes are up this year in Colorado, despite bars being closed across the state.
As of April 30, 44 people have been killed this year in suspected DUI crashes, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. That’s up from 34 over the same time period in 2019.
“You would think that traffic fatalities would be down a lot, and that our roads would be a lot safer,” says MADD Executive Director Fran Lanzer. “When it comes to DUI-caused fatalities, they’re way up.”
According to CDOT, 14 people were killed in DUI-related crashes in March alone, the same month stay-at-home orders went into place. Nine of those occurred in the metro Denver area, also known as Region 1.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of people almost acting like the laws don’t apply right now,” says Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Blake White.
White says CSP will be increasing DUI enforcement beginning Friday, as part of the “Heat is On” campaign.
According to CSP, 323 drivers were cited during the same campaign over Memorial Day weekend in 2019.
“There’s no excuse to drink and drive, or consume cannabis and drive,” says Lanzer.
MADD provides support services to victims and survivors at no charge. You can reach them at 1-877-MADD-HELP.
READ FULL STORY HERE by:Evan Kruegel Posted: May 21, 2020 / 08:53 PM MDT
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of American life, including the court systems. In Colorado, courts have temporarily ceased normal operations, delaying a number of trials for at least several weeks and maybe even longer.
In a recent order, Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Coats suspended numerous court operations, resulting in the delay of many cases. According to Matthew A. Martin, P.C., a criminal defense attorney and DUI defense lawyer in Denver, the ruling was unfortunate but expected.
“A courthouse is a very public setting,” said Martin. “While suspensions and postponements are never ideal, it’s just not possible to adhere to all the directives on social distancing in that sort of setting.”
Unfortunately, it’s not clear when and how postponed and suspended cases will begin again. While Governor Jared Polis is set to ease many statewide restrictions; it’s expected that court systems will continue suspending or limiting operations for some time.
While the decision to suspend or postpone cases is probably a good idea, it’s going to have a serious effect on many people who were hoping for speedy resolutions to their cases. Still, according to Martin, there could be a silver lining for people who have secured knowledgeable, dedicated attorneys.
“A good attorney should be able to use the extra time to work hard reviewing discovery, conferring with clients, and preparing cases,” said Martin. “When necessary, they will write motions and briefs, while conferring with appropriate law enforcement prosecutors and officials to mitigate the impact of delays on their clients’ lives. This sort of activity will help ensure that their clients are ahead of the game when things return to normal and cases begin again.”
Unfortunately, if they don’t have a strong representative, people may be left to twist in the wind until their cases can be heard. This can be especially problematic for people who are fighting DUIs, felonies, or misdemeanors, which can lead to loss off employment, parental custody, and freedom.
“A court delay can have serious ramifications on people who have been accused of a criminal act,” said Martin. “Because we understand this, our firm is working double-time to ease the burden on our clients. To provide optimal representation and protect our staff, we will be remotely conducting our defense and representation of present and future clients during the existence of the coronavirus pandemic. This may include FaceTime and Skype for necessary face-to-face consultations. We are also corresponding consistently through phone calls, text messaging, emails, facsimile transmissions, and other techniques that do not involve being in the actual physical presence of each other.”
Unfortunately, it’s not clear when Colorado courthouses will return to full capacity. Even though restrictions are expected to ease by May, the situation remains fluid. Just recently, a Denver courthouse had to shut down entirely when an attorney tested positive for the novel coronavirus. This sort of instance is a reflection of how unpredictable the situation is.
“No one really knows when things will return to normal,” said Martin. “This is one reason why some courts are setting up virtual courtrooms for appearances for criminal cases. That said, others have suspended all jury trials indefinitely. Whatever the case, our team has taken steps to remain agile enough to represent our clients in shifting circumstances. Since there’s just no way to predict how things will evolve, it’s important for attorneys to prepare for every potential eventuality to give clients the representation they deserve.”
As the pandemic progresses, clients need to stay in touch with their attorneys to make sure they are aware of shifting timetables. It’s also a good idea to inquire if there are any measures that can be taken to alleviate burdens associated with court delays. Some courts have taken special steps to mitigate such burdens, however, you will have to speak to your attorney to find out if these measures apply to your particular situation.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE by Matthew A. Martin, P.C., a top criminal defense attorney and DUI defense lawyer in Denver.