Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analyzed electronic court records of 45,637 people arrested for drinking and driving offenses issued in Colorado from April 2012 through April 2014, finding that many shouldn't have been on the road in the first place.
Arapahoe County Deputy Sheriffs, Justin Osborn, right, and Beau Baggett, left, perform road side sobriety test near Centennial, Colo., in 2009. #161116863 / gettyimages.com
They didn't have a driver's license.
The analysis did not include Denver County Court, where court officials said they could not determine how many of the 13,200 motorists charged with drinking and driving over the two years had no valid driver’s license at the time.
The analysis found:
One-fourth or 10,978 of the 45,637 driving while intoxicated or impaired citations were issued to drivers who had previously had their licenses suspended, restrained or did not have a license. That’s an average of 15 a day, without including Denver.
At least 2,294 of those drivers, or three a day, had lost their driving privileges for a prior driving and drinking arrest.
More than 250 separate law enforcement agencies in the state had stopped at least one driver for drinking and driving without a license.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck said the number of motorists driving without licenses is so pervasive that it overwhelms the justice system.
“The court takes it seriously, the prosecutors take it seriously, the police take it seriously, but we don’t have enough resources to be able to punish somebody appropriately when they’re driving without a license,” Buck said in an interview.