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The Heat Is On For Prom Night

Prom can be one of the exciting times for high school students, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. During Prom season of 2012 there were 1,000 fatalities nationwide caused by alcohol related accidents. When you consider that drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of death among teens in America, it’s no coincidence that a Colorado statewide DUI crackdown happens during the height of Prom season, between April 6 and May 18.

“Prom is a night to remember: a time that should include laughter, fun and reminiscing with friends. But when alcohol and drugs are involved, the night can quickly turn disastrous.” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP), and other local law enforcement agencies are joining forces this year to promote and enforce the annual anti-impaired driving campaign, The Heat Is On. What does this mean? An increased number of officers will be on the roads and freeways during the peak drunk driving hours of the night.

While the use of alcohol or marijuana for anyone under the age of 21 is illegal in Colorado, nearly 9 million youth in America, ages 12-20,
reported that they have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that anywhere from 4.6-8.9% of Colorado teens over the age of 16 have driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Every Colorado driver knows that driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, but most teens don’t understand that there are major consequences associated with getting a DUI.

Financial Consequences of a DUI

In Colorado, a DUI can cost well over $10,000 after factoring in attorney and court fees, alcohol classes, license reinstatement fees, and a court-ordered ignition interlock device. Not to mention the fact that insurance rates tend to skyrocket after a driver receives a DUI – this alone can cost $3000 over a 5-year period.

DUI Convictions Affect College Applications

Most colleges and universities ask about any criminal convictions; when you’re competing against thousands of other qualified applicants, you can bet that a DUI conviction will send your application straight to the “No” list. A DUI conviction can also affect your ability to receive financial aid.

Missed Job Opportunities

As with college applications, most job applications ask about criminal convictions, and having a DUI conviction on your record can make it very difficult to get hired.

Another thing that most teens don’t consider is that certain careers are nearly impossible to enter into with a DUI conviction. Any job that requires a professional license will have very high standards for those who wish to pursue a career in that field. These careers include nurses, doctors, lawyers, and even plumbers, among others.

DUI Convictions Mean Jail Time

As of July 1, 2010 there is mandatory jail time for every DUI (BAC over 0.08%) and DWAI (BAC of 0.05-0.08%). For a first DUI conviction, jail time can range from 5 days to 1 year. For a first DWAI conviction, mandatory jail time can range from 2-180 days.Driving under the influence of marijuana can also result in a DUI conviction.

Law enforcement officials are encouraging students to engage in activities that will prevent a DUI conviction, and to help their friends avoid drinking and driving, as well. While the statement may be overused, it’s as true today as it was the first time you heard it-
friends don’t let friends drink and drive!

“We are proud of our students in Colorado. Most of the time, they make good decisions,” said Carol Gould, CDOT Highway Safety Manager. “This time of year, peer pressure is a big part of life in high school. We want to help students make smart choices and create positive memories, not dangerous ones that they will remember for the rest of their lives—for all the wrong reasons.”

Never get behind the wheel after drinking, and never get into a vehicle when the driver has been drinking-no matter how many times they assure you that they’re “ok to drive.”

Are you a parent of a high school student? Make sure to talk with them about the dangers of drinking and driving, and come up with a plan to help them avoid driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. Find out what their school is doing to educate students about drinking and driving, and if they plan to offer any alcohol-free activities on Prom night.

The Heat Is On runs the entire year with 12 specific DUI enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large, public events. More details about the DUI enforcement plans and arrest results can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.

If you’ve been injured in a car crash due to a drunk or impaired driver, call the experienced drunk driving and personal injury attorneys at The Bendinelli Law Firm today for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll get you the help you deserve.

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