Craig briefs: 518 impaired drivers arrested Thanksgiving |

Craig briefs: 518 impaired drivers arrested Thanksgiving

It was a busy holiday on Colorado roads, as residents and tourists traveled for Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family, according to a news release.

To increase safety for all drivers, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and law enforcement agencies statewide increased impaired driving enforcement as part of The Heat Is On campaign.

From Nov. 18 to 28, a total of 97 agencies across the state arrested 518 drivers, a significant increase from the 283 drivers arrested during the same enforcement event last year. The additional arrests are attributed to the longer enforcement period this year, which was twice as long.

To coincide with the numerous celebrations happening this time of year, the holiday parties DUI enforcement period is now underway. The 10-day crackdown runs until Dec. 12.

Last year, 100 agencies arrested 596 drivers during the holiday enforcement period. This year at least 90 law enforcement agencies will participate in the effort.

“Traffic fatalities in Colorado have already surpassed last year’s total,” Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT, said in a statement. “Impaired drivers were involved in about one-third of those deaths, and CDOT is determined to continue DUI-prevention efforts, as enforcement is our most effective tool to reduce impaired driving crashes and fatalities.”

According to preliminary data, 177 people have died in alcohol- and drug-related crashes on Colorado roadways so far this year.

Aside from the dangers impaired drivers present to other motorists, a DUI arrest can result in severe legal and financial consequences. First-time DUI offenders can be punished with up to one year in jail, license suspension and steep fines. On average, a DUI can cost more than $10,000 after considering fines, legal fees and increased insurance costs. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.

House passes bill to strengthen defense

Congressman Scott Tipton, R-District 3, voted in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the final National Defense Authorization Act or 2017.

After passing separate versions of the bill, the House and Senate negotiated the differences between the two bills in a conference committee. The final text of the 2017 NDAA was approved by the House-Senate conference committee on Nov. 29 and passed the full House with a bipartisan vote of 375-34.

The 2017 NDAA authorizes funding for the U.S. military’s ongoing engagements in the Middle East, as well as for U.S. troops operating in Europe. The 2.1 percent pay increase for active duty service members included in the bill marks the largest pay increase for troops in three years.

The bill increases base funding for the military by $9 billion over the amount requested by President Obama to stop troop drawdowns and replace outdated equipment. The 2017 NDAA also includes authorization for over $550 million to fund the ongoing destruction of chemical weapons in depots like the one in Pueblo.

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our military has the resources it needs to protect the country from its enemies,” Tipton said in a written statement. “We’ve heard numerous reports from military leaders that our military’s current operational readiness is below what it should be. Radical terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror, like Iran, pose very serious threats to our way of life. This year’s NDAA gives our troops the resources they need to fight terrorist threats effectively, and it also enforces existing sanctions on Iran.”

The 2017 NDAA supports the national security plan put forth by House Republicans as part of its Better Way Agenda. The Better Way Agenda prioritizes the defeat of radical Islamic extremism, protection of U.S. borders, and the prevention of cyber-attacks in the upcoming 115th Congress.

Holiday tree cutting permits coming soon

The Bureau of Land Management Vernal Field Office will begin selling holiday season tree cutting permits for pinyon pine and juniper trees Nov. 14. The last day to purchase a permit is Dec. 23. Permits are $10 each, with one permit allowed per household. An individual may purchase as many as five permits, but must provide the name and address of each person for whom the permits are being purchased.

The Vernal Field Office has designated areas where trees may be cut. Maps of the tree cutting areas are provided with each tree permit, along with the personal-use tree policy, conservation code and recycling information. The map is part of the actual tree cutting permit, which must be carried while cutting and transporting the tree.

Tree cutting permits can be purchased at the BLM Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Elkhead campers must reserve spots next year

Elkhead Reservoir, one of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s most popular recreation destinations in the state’s Northwest region, is upgrading its Bears Ears Campground from the current first come, first served structure to a reservation system, according to a news release.

Beginning May 19 through Sept. 10, the public can reserve a campsite as many as six months before arriving. Outside of that reservation window, campsites will remain available on a first come, first served basis as weather allows.

Beginning immediately, campers can make reservations at Bears Ears and other campgrounds in the state by calling 303-470-1144, 1-800-678-2267 or visiting

Elkhead Reservoir’s Park Manager Jacob Brey said the ability to reserve a campsite will provide an enhanced outdoor recreation experience at the park. He adds that campers do not need a reservation during the period the requirement is in effect; however, a campsite is not guaranteed without a reservation.

“Because campers can reserve a place to camp in advance, it will reduce last-minute struggles to find an available site,” he said in a statement. “Many of Colorado’s State Parks require reservations at their campgrounds. We believe the reservation system provides a better way of serving our customers here.”

CPW reminds park visitors to purchase a daily or annual pass before entering any State Park.

For more information about Elkhead Reservoir State Park, visit the CPW website or call 970-276-2061.

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