DUI enforcement picks up during holidays

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Residents drinking and driving this holiday season are more likely to be caught by law enforcement, and this enforcement was in full force over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Lt. Ted Meador of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office said deputies arrested one person on Saturday, Nov. 24 and another two were caught on Nov. 25.

The sheriff’s office will have seven scheduled DUI shifts for the remainder of the year, though the date and times will not be made available to the public, Meador said in an email.

However, MCSO deputies will not be conducting DUI roadblocks, Meador said. Roadblocks typically have to be announced to the public beforehand.

Meador also said the sheriff’s office has always had extra deputies focusing on DUIs throughout the year.

“We are just aware that during holidays there are more parties and opportunity for people to drive intoxicated,” he said.

The DUI overtime shifts are paid for by a state grant, and the only focus for these deputies is for DUIs during those shifts.

Meador said historically the sheriff’s office sees a slight increase in DUI arrests during the holiday season.

Sheriff Dennis Spruell said the High Visibility Impaired Driving Enforcement grant was awarded by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the state of Colorado.

Police agencies are awarded funds through the grant for certain holidays to use the money to pay overtime for officers whose only duty will be for DUI enforcement.

“All he does is traffic control while looking for DUIs,” Spruell said in explaining what the DUI deputies will be providing through this grant.

“Other officers can return to their duties,” Spruell said.

Spruell said the sheriff’s office, which applies for these funds every year, received $10,620 in 2012 through this grant.

The 2012 funds paid for DUI overtime enforcement for the Fourth of July, Labor Day, the Fall Festival, Halloween, Thanksgiving and now the Christmas holiday season.

The sheriff said he did not have the figures to show how effective DUI enforcement has been since being used.

Spruell said the officers working this detail usually work weekends because this is when most of the impaired driving occurs, but added if a holiday falls on a weekday these officers will work that day, too.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com