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DUI arrests reached an all-time high of 528 in Colorado over the Halloween period, which went from Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. to Nov. 1 at 3 a.m., according to a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) press release. The City of Boulder reported 22 DUI arrests during this period, which is up from 18 over the same period in 2005.
Many holidays are becoming more closely associated with drinking, creating concerns for law enforcement officials and sober drivers.
“Halloween has emerged as a major drinking holiday,” said Bob Maust, chairman of CU’s standing committee on substance abuse.
According to Maust, the concept of Halloween in the mind of a young adult is one largely created by the alcohol industry. Past advertising campaigns by Coors that featured Elvira prompted other companies to jump on the bandwagon.
The upcoming holiday season is a substantial time for vacations, office parties and ultimately more drinking and driving. But most of the holiday season does not require extra DUI traffic enforcement, especially in Boulder.
“Our numbers stay steady with DUI arrests all year-round,” said Julie Brooks, the Public Information Officer for the Boulder Police Department.
Brooks said it is not uncommon for Boulder to average three to five DUI arrests a night. She said even though Halloween is a period of high DUI arrests, special enforcement is usually reserved for holidays such as New Year’s Eve, Labor Day and Memorial Day.
Special enforcement means additional police on patrol in an attempt to catch drunk drivers. Brooks said Boulder does not do sobriety checkpoints because they require too much manpower.
Brooks said a growing trend for students is the “next-morning DUI.” Many students go to bed after a night of drinking and must wake up early the next morning for work or class. Some students are then arrested for a DUI that morning, not realizing they are still drunk from the night before.
From December of 2005 through August, the city of Boulder averaged 18 DUI arrests per week. During Thanksgiving weekend, arrests equaled only eight over four days. Over New Year’s Eve there were six arrests, according to Boulder Police Department records.
Saturation patrols and public announcements help keep other drivers safe and are the reasons that DUI arrests remain at a normal level over New Year’s Eve.
“The traditional winter holidays begin with Thanksgiving, and we encourage every motorist to make smart driving choices by not drinking and driving,” said Col. Mark Trostel, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, in a CDOT press release.