One of every four motorists cited for drinking and driving in Colorado over the past two years was driving at the time without a valid license because it had been revoked, suspended or never issued.
And more than one-fifth of that number without licenses had lost their driving privileges for a prior drunken driving conviction.
In one notorious Aurora case, Ever Olivos-Gutierrez, 40, allegedly driving drunk, ran a red light and smashed into a car being driven by Juan Carlos Dominquez-Palomino, 17, killing him two months before he was to graduate from high school.
Olivos-Gutierrez had never had a Colorado driver’s license and had been cited for two previous DUIs when he was involved in the deadly March 24 crash.
That same day, 10 other drivers across Colorado were cited for drinking while driving without a valid license. Five of them – from Pueblo to Colorado Springs to Mesa County – had lost their licenses for prior DUIs.
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 weren’t legally on the road in the first place.
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 it take 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.
With the Labor Day holiday weekend less than two weeks away, DUI will again become the focus of increased DUI enforcement.