Repeat drunk driving risks in Colorado

Residents in Denver should learn about the risks they face from repeat drunk drivers and what can be done to stay safe.

The dangers of drunk driving are not necessarily unknown to most Denver area residents. However, motor vehicle accidents caused by people who choose to drive drunk can be thought of as other peoples' problems-until they happen to you. It is important for anyone who shares the roads whether in cars, on motorcycles, bicycles or on foot to be aware of the risks and know how to get help when needed.

Repeat offender risks

Any drunk driving accident can cause lifelong personal injury or even death to innocent victims. When the impaired driver has a record of previous drunk driving convictions, the concerns can be even greater. Century Council data from 2012 shows that in Colorado that year, 133 people lost their lives in drunk driving crashes. In the vast majority of these fatal wrecks in which the impaired driver had prior offenses, the drivers' level of alcohol in their bloodstreams was greater than 0.14 percent.

Can repeat drunk driving be prevented?

One of the consequences that convicted drunk drivers can face is the installation and use of ignition interlock devices. With IIDs installed, vehicle engines are not allowed to be started unless drivers first successfully pass alcohol breath tests. In Colorado, the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that first-time offenders generally have their drivers' licenses revoked for nine months. After the first month, they can be eligible for limited licenses with the use of IIDs.

Additionally, some drivers must use ignition interlock devices for a full year. These include people with blood alcohol levels of at least 0.17 percent. Some drivers can even face longer use of IIDs.

While most ignition interlock devices are installed into vehicles after a drunk driving conviction, TechHive reported on how some auto makers are looking to build IID technology into new cars from the beginning.

How many lives are lost in Colorado due to drunk drivers?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2013 show that 142 out of 481 traffic fatalities in Colorado involved alcohol. In Denver County, 16 out of 40 traffic fatalities involved alcohol.

Only El Paso County lost more lives than Denver County in Colorado that year with 25 drunk driving fatalities. Jefferson County and Weld County had the third and fourth highest number of deaths due to drunk drivers with 14 and 8 fatalities respectively.

What should Denver residents do?

When a drunk driving accident happens, help is needed. Anyone impacted by these serious crashes whether a victim directly or the loved one of a deceased victim should contact a lawyer immediately.

Keywords: drunk driving, risks, Colorado, motor vehicle accidents, offender risks, accident, convicted drunk drivers, National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver residents