Police stepping up efforts to bust drunken drivers up and down 82 | AspenTimes.com

Police stepping up efforts to bust drunken drivers up and down 82

The Colorado State Patrol will have a heavy presence on Highway 82 this weekend, as part of a yearlong effort to promote safe driving.

The patrol’s “accident prevention team” will include a supervisor and a team of troopers who will be concentrating on the corridor of Highway 82 on Friday and Saturday. In addition, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office will set up a sobriety checkpoint on Friday.

“The focus is not to make a high number of arrests. The focus is to be a visible deterrent on people who want to drink and drive, to cut down on the accident rate,” said Deputy Heath Mosness, who is organizing the checkpoint.

He said it’s part of a statewide initiative to reduce the number of accidents. A similar initiative was used in Tennessee a couple of years ago, and the state lowered its fatal accident rate by 20 percent, Mosness said.

Similar checkpoints will be happening all over the state this year.

“The state is focusing on the period of time from Memorial Day through Labor Day – the time when people travel the most,” Mosness said. “Every weekend there will be some checkpoints throughout the whole state. The date that we’ve chosen for ours doesn’t mean anything – we’re not out looking for a high number of arrests.”

He would not disclose where Friday’s checkpoint will be. He said the checkpoint will be visible, and drivers will have the option of turning off the road from the checkpoint and going around it. If drivers do go around the checkpoint, they will not come in contact with police unless they are speeding or weaving down the road.

“Basically, as you come through the checkpoint you will make brief contact with the patrollers, and if no indicators [of driving under the influence] are picked up, you’ll be sent on your way,” Mosness said. He added Highway 82 has a high ratio of accidents involving alcohol.

Besides Eagle County, the Basalt Police Department and the State Patrol will be helping with the checkpoint.

With its accident prevention team, the State Patrol will be looking at drinking and driving and any other traffic infraction on Highway 82, including speeding.

“The whole focus with the State Patrol is to impact that area and make people think about what happens as a result of their driving behavior,” Mosness said.

In early June an accident on Highway 82 near the Pitkin County Landfill left two men dead and one in critical condition. Police said the accident happened when a driver lost control and swerved across the highway at close to 100 mph, striking an oncoming truck.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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