This weekend, local law enforcement agencies will begin to put thousands of dollars toward combatting drunken driving.
The Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office received a $20,250 grant from the state to increase the patrol efforts for drunken drivers during the entire year.
Each weekend, one extra vehicle from either department will patrol the streets of Craig specifically assigned to look for anyone driving under the influence.
The current schedule allows one vehicle from either department to serve as DUI patrol on Friday and Saturday nights. Now officials will look into the possibility of a Thursday night patrol.
"The program's main goal is to reduce alcohol-related fatalities," Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said. "That's really what it's about getting those numbers down, not getting a bunch of DUIs. The number of alcohol-related deaths in Colorado is way up there, among the highest in the nation."
A total of 37 cities and 19 counties in Colorado were given a similar grant. The state awarded $1.4 million to law enforcement agencies to add these DUI patrols. The Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office received $13,750 for overtime wages and $6,500 for hand-held breathalizers.
"Driving under the influence is a national problem that both departments are looking to curtail," Craig Police Captain Jerry DeLong said. "We really want to stress to people that there are other avenues to getting home if you've been drinking: Have a designated driver, call a cab, call a friend, walk. If you have to, call the police or the Sheriff's Office for a ride home we'll do that. If you are drinking, just don't drive."
One of the requirements of the grant is participation in all "The Heat is On" campaigns designated by the state. "The Heat is On" campaigns are saturation patrols around holiday weekends. CPD and MCSO will provide two vehicles for DUI patrols the Friday and Saturday night of March 15 to March 17 St. Patrick's Day weekend.
Vehicles on DUI pa-trol will be exclusively patrolling for drunken dri-vers but will also be able to respond to other emergency calls, Hoberg said.
The grant was awarded to the departments in November.
The CPD and MCSO plan to apply for this grant for 2003, DeLong said.