Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Publishes Report on Colorado DUI Offenses

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(Remote, Nov. 6, 2020) – The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) has published a report analyzing more than 26,000 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases that were filed in Colorado in 2018. It is the third report published by DCJ as mandated by HB 17-1315.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, A Report Pursuant to House Bill 17-1315,” tracks Colorado DUI offenses in 2018 from arrest through final court outcome, and also examines data from probation. This report is published with a lag in order to allow enough time to follow most cases from their initial filing through final court disposition.

The publication examines a wide range of data points, including offender demographics; toxicology results; charges, final dispositions, and associated traffic charges; and more.

DATA HIGHLIGHTS:

Arrests, charges and outcomes:

  • In 2018, Colorado prosecutors filed 26,255 cases with at least one DUI charge. Ninety-four percent of DUI case filings involved misdemeanor DUI charges.
  • Overall, Colorado had a high conviction rate for DUI charges (88%), with increasing convictions for charges associated with high Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) results (96%), high Delta 9-THC results (91%), and high BAC and Delta 9-THC results (94%).
  • As in prior years’ findings, more than one third of DUI convicted drivers had at least one prior DUI and nearly 8% had three or more prior arrests for DUI.

Demographics:

  • Individuals in the 26-34 age category accounted for 30% of all DUI court filings.
  • Of the 26,255 DUI case filings, three out of four involved males. Males ages 21-25 had the highest rate of DUI cases, with a case filing rate three times that of all Coloradans (1,777 vs. 574 case filings per 100,000 residents). 

Toxicology:

  • There was very little change in alcohol and Delta 9-THC DUI toxicology results from 2016-2018. 
  • In the 3,335 cases with toxicology confirmatory testing for marijuana, 50% had Delta 9-THC levels above the legal limit indicating impairment. The marijuana testing positivity rate in 2018 was nearly identical to the 2017 rate, and both years’ rates represent a decline from 2016. 
  • However, stimulant-involved DUI cases increased 37% from 2016-2018. In particular, methamphetamine was detected in 25% of cases that were screened for drugs of abuse.
  • Nearly 84% of court cases linked to an alcohol testing result had a BAC over the legal limit of 0.08. The average BAC was 0.156, which is almost double the per se level. Only 5% of the BAC tests detected no alcohol.

Crashes:

  • Nearly 26% of drivers convicted of DUI were involved in crashes, and 909 of these drivers were involved in crashes with injuries.
  • Crash involvement was significantly lower among drivers who tested positive for only Delta 9-THC (7%). However, sentenced drivers who tested positive for both alcohol and Delta-9 THC had a higher crash rate of 29%. 

“Impaired driving continues to be a serious problem, with serious consequences,” said Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. “ The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies statewide continue their partnership to bring awareness of the dangers and consequences of impaired driving as well as increase enforcement activities across the state.”

During the most recent Heat Is On Fall DUI enforcement period, 1,398 arrests were made in the 48-day period. A total of 95 agencies participated with the Colorado Springs Police Department (191 arrests), Denver Police Department (141 arrests), and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (86 arrests) recording the highest number of arrests. The Colorado State Patrol made 150 arrests. Results for all law enforcement agencies across the state can be found on the CDOT Traffic Safety Reporting Portal.

The Colorado State Patrol has found that impaired driving consistently remains a top causal factor for injury and fatal accidents across Colorado. The Patrol uses ongoing data to help determine enforcement actions and regularly partners with local agencies for checkpoints and high visibility enforcement. CSP will be ramping up efforts for Thanksgiving, holiday office party season, and New Year’s Eve.  

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