CDOT releases results of summer DUI program

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DENVER (KKTV) - The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) released their results from their plan to keep families safe from drunk drivers. It was a summer program aimed at stopping repeat DUI offenders from getting behind the wheel after they've been drinking.

Back in July, CDOT asked anyone in Colorado with one previous DUI to sign up. Their goal was to have more than 400 drivers participate in the program. In the end, they had 475 drivers involved.

The purpose was to see if owning a breathalyzer could prevent drivers from getting a second DUI. If they blew into the device and see how impaired they actually are, CDOT hoped they'd rethink getting behind the wheel and find a safe ride home. Once a driver signed up and was accepted into the program, they were mailed a free breathalyzer to keep.

"If you participate in the program, you can keep the breathalyzer as long as you respond to our survey asking what you thought of the program," said CDOT spokesperson Sam Cole.

The breathalyzers were paired with a smartphone application called BACtrack.

"We actually are partnering with BACtrack, and BACtrack breathalyzers are law enforcement-grade device, so the number is accurate, it's very accurate," Cole said. "It's actually probably very close to the number that you would blow if you were pulled over by an officer on the highway and he wanted to breathalyze you."

In Colorado, there were more than 21,000 DUI cases in 2016. Forty percent of those were repeat offenders.

El Paso County has one of the highest fatality rates in Colorado for crashes involving impaired drivers. In 2016, there were 21 deaths in the county. So far this year, there have been 11.

CDOT released the following results from their program:

In the six weeks prior to receiving their smartphone breathalyzers, 28 percent of the first-time DUI offenders in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) 2017 Breathalyzer Program indicated they may have driven a vehicle impaired. Since receiving the breathalyzers, only 9 percent think they drove impaired.

Prior to the program 42 percent of participants were confident in their ability to drive after a few drinks. Since owning a breathalyzer, 30 percent felt the same way.
• 94 percent of participants agreed that everyone who regularly drinks should own a personal breathalyzer.
• One individual reported a DUI conviction since receiving their smartphone breathalyzer.
• When asked if owning a smartphone breathalyzer has helped participants avoid impaired driving, 91 percent "agreed" or "strongly agreed."

There were 475 participants in the program and 75 percent reported using their breathalyzers to determine if they were safe to drive after consuming alcohol.

While the surveys indicate breathalyzers can help individuals make responsible decisions when drinking, they also reveal some concerning realities. For example, prior to the program, only 85 percent of participants knew the .08 BAC limit for a DUI conviction, and even less, 59 percent, knew the .05 BAC limit in Colorado for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).

There were a total of 59 participants in El Paso County and three in Pueblo.