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The unofficial end of summer is upon us: cookouts, patio parties and enjoying a long weekend. If alcohol or other impairing substances are a part of your celebration, the Colorado State Patrol wants you to plan ahead for a sober driver.

Last year, impaired driving was the top causal factor for fatal crashes in Colorado. This was a six percent increase over 2021. This long, Labor Day weekend is particularly concerning.

“Most people worry about impaired drivers on New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, but the truth is all holidays bring people together and they often celebrate with impairing substances,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief Col. Matthew C. Packard. “We have to get to the place as a community where we value human life as much as our good time. Call a rideshare, plan on staying the night, make a plan to do anything but drive after drinking or using drugs.”

Colorado State Patrol crash data for 2022, reveals a three-way tie for the top holiday for impaired driving-caused crashes, each with 23 crashes:

St. Patrick’s Day

Fourth of July

Labor Day

When looking at a four-year period (2019-2022) Fourth of July was the top holiday (101 crashes) and Labor Day came in the second spot (74 crashes).

Regarding impaired driving crashes investigated by the Colorado State Patrol, alcohol remains the largest impairment type, but Colorado is also seeing a rise in marijuana and drug combination-caused crashes.

Drivers under the influence often behave erratically by weaving or swerving, accelerating and decelerating for no apparent reason, hugging or straddling the center line, or failing to turn headlights on.

If you come across a suspected impaired driver, pull over and call: *CSP (*277). Be prepared to provide the location and direction of travel for this driver. In addition, you should be able to describe the make, model, and license plate along with the concerning driving behavior that you witnessed.

CSP warns other drivers — do not attempt to pass the driver or drive alongside to get their attention. After you call, it’s up to law enforcement.

“If the driver isn’t impaired, a breath or blood test will determine that. And if he or she is, you may have just saved a life – possibly more than one,” says Chief Packard.

The state’s troopers say they continue to take a low-tolerance approach to the top fatal crash factors, including lane violations while launching a yearlong campaign called “Drive Safe.” This campaign reminds people to control their lane position based on their current driving environment.

Featured image: Courtesy of the Colorado State Patrol.