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Colorado DUI Statistics

One in three Colorado drivers arrested for DUI has a previous DUI arrest, according to a study by the Denver Post. Of the approximately 31,000 drivers arrested each of the last three years for driving under the influence, almost 11,000 were repeat offenders. The Post's analysis, which looked at criminal justice records, court files and extensive data from 2005-2007, found an average of 31,011 DUI arrests each year, of which 10,835 had at least one prior DUI arrest. In the same three-year span, 5,679 had two or more DUI arrests, 84 had ten or more, and five had at least 20 previous drunk driving encounters. Colorado is one of only four states that does not have a felony DUI offense, however; this issue is raised annually in the legislature and we believe that it is only a matter of time before Colorado passes a felony DUI law. Colorado law also includes a less serious driving while ability impaired, or DWAI, category, which is a blood alcohol content, or BAC, greater than 0.050 but less than 0.080. Statistics on DWAI arrests in Colorado were not present in the Denver Post article.

Stronger DUI Punishments

Lawmakers have attempted to strengthen Colorado DUI laws in the past, but their efforts have not been successful in keeping drunk drivers off the road. A 2004 law lowered the minimum BAC for a DUI from 0.100 to 0.080. Lawmakers have also taken steps to increase jail sentences and stop plea-bargains, in which first-time offenders may be able to receive leniency in exchange for a guilty plea. An attempt to pass a felony DUI law died in Colorado legislature in 2007 due to budgetary concerns and again in 2013 because there are no valid statistics to support the fact that a felony DUI law reduces the number of DUI offenses. In many states, a driver with two previous DUI offenses or with a BAC ≥ 0.20 can face a felony charge, up to seven years in jail and a steep fine. A Colorado DUI attorney can help reduce those penalties. Additionally, Colorado does not set a cap on the number of DUI convictions a person can receive in a lifetime. Many states have increasingly severe penalties for each successive DUI conviction.

NHTSA Statistics

Alcohol-related deaths in the US since 1982:

Total fatalities Alcohol related fatalities
Year Number Number Percent
1982 43,945 26,173 60
1983 42,589 24,635 58
1984 44,257 24,762 56
1985 43,825 23,167 53
1986 46,087 25,017 54
1987 46,390 24,094 52
1988 47,087 23,833 51
1989 45,582 22,424 49
1990 44,599 22,587 51
1991 41,508 20,159 49
1992 39,250 18,290 47
1993 40,150 17,908 45
1994 40,716 17,308 43
1995 41,817 17,732 42
1996 42,065 17,749 42
1997 42,013 16,711 40
1998 41,501 16,673 40
1999 41,717 16,572 40
2000 41,945 17,380 41
2001 42,196 17,400 41
2002 43,005 17,524 41
2003 42,643 17,013 40
2004 42,518 16,919 39
2005 43,443 16,885 39
2006 42,532 15,829 37
2007 41,059 15,387 37

Drinking and driving fatalities by state in 2006 (ranked by highest number of alcohol-related deaths):

State Total Fatalities Alcohol-Related Fatalities
Number Percent
Texas 3,466 1,544 45%
California 4,229 1,509 36%
Florida 3,363 1,111 33%
Pennsylvania 1,517 556 37%
Illinois 1,254 540 43%
Georgia 1,688 539 32%
Arizona 1,280 502 39%
North Carolina 1,558 490 31%
New York 1,454 483 33%
Tennessee 1,286 478 37%
South Carolina 1,037 477 46%
Missouri 1,087 469 43%
Ohio 1,235 451 37%
Alabama 1,206 445 37%
Louisiana 982 425 43%
Michigan 1,081 390 36%
Mississippi 911 358 39%
Wisconsin 722 352 49%
Virginia 961 347 36%
Indiana 896 290 32%
New Jersey 771 285 37%
Washington 630 269 43%
Kentucky 913 257 28%
Arkansas 665 245 37%
Oklahoma 765 243 32%
Maryland 651 235 36%
Colorado 533 207 39%
Oregon 477 177 37%
Minnesota 493 175 36%
Nevada 432 168 39%
Kansas 466 162 35%
Massachusetts 422 159 38%
New Mexico 484 155 32%
West Virginia 408 155 38%
Iowa 439 142 32%
Connecticut 301 121 40%
Montana 255 114 45%
Idaho 267 102 38%
Nebraska 266 86 32%
South Dakota 191 78 41%
Wyoming 195 78 40%
Hawaii 160 77 48%
Maine 188 70 37%
Utah 284 63 22%
New Hampshire 127 51 40%
Delaware 148 50 34%
North Dakota 111 47 42%
Rhode Island 81 37 46%
Vermont 86 28 33%
Alaska 73 23 31%
Dist of Columbia 37 14 36%
National 42,532 15,829 37%
Puerto Rico 507 176 35%

*According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term 'alcohol-related' does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol."

Note the last paragraph, and in particular, the last sentence. This would seem to make the statistics above a little misleading since we tend to think that alcohol-related crashes are caused by drunk drivers. But if a sober driver kills an alcohol-impaired pedestrian, it's still considered an alcohol-related crash.

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