DUI fatalities are up despite fewer people on Colorado roads

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) – The holidays are a time to celebrate, but they are also one of the deadliest times on our roads. Law enforcement will be out looking for impaired drivers again this season. Even during the pandemic, with fewer people on the roads, DUI fatalities are up this year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is launching its annual “Tie One on for Safety” event. They hope red ribbons will remind people to plan ahead to make sure you have a safe way to get home.

“Everybody can play a part in ending drunk and drugged driving. Simply, if everyone chooses to plan ahead to have a safe ride home before they begin celebrating, then we can end drunk and drugged driving tomorrow,” MADD Colorado Executive Director Fran Lanzer said.

Brittany Lamb knows the dangers all too well. She was hit by a drunk driver in 1997 when she was just 12 years old. Her aunt died in the crash, as did the drunk driver. A medical helicopter crashed trying to airlift the drunk driver from the scene, killing everyone on board.

“My injuries were pretty severe. I had facial fractures, broken bones, broken collar bone, broken fingers and toes. It really tore me up mentally,” Lamb said.

Lamb’s recovery is ongoing, even 23 years later.

“It was really hard at that time. I was 12 years old, in middle school. I was bullied because of the scars on my face and I was really closed off at the time,” she said.

She is thankful she finally found MADD’s victim services, which has helped her get therapy.

“I love how MADD supports me and they support my healing process. I have been able to speak in schools about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as taking care of your own mental health,” Lamb said.

Lanzer said it’s surprising that DUI fatalities are up during the pandemic.

“In spite of everything that is going on and advice to stay at home and travel restrictions, people are still on the roads and sadly, some are making the wrong choice to get behind the wheel impaired, whether it is from alcohol or cannabis. At one point this year, the Colorado State Patrol numbers were up 100% over last year. Since then, fatalities from drunk and drugged driving crashes are up 10-15% over last year. CDOT is reporting 178 fatalities from suspected drunk driving crashes this year. There were 176 all of last year. With still six weeks to go in the year, we have already passed the number for all of last year,” he said.

Lamb’s goal is to support survivors and hopefully prevent anyone from getting behind the wheel while impaired.

“What happened to me doesn’t have to happen to anyone else. This is a truly preventable crime,” she said.

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