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As Impaired Driving Deaths Hit 20-Year High In Colorado, New Bill Hopes To Reduce Number Of DUIs

DENVER (CBS4) - Drunk and drugged drivers killed more people last year in Colorado than they have since 2002. A total of 253 people died in crashes involving impaired drivers, a 45% increase over two years ago. A bill at the state Capitol could reverse the trend using a technology proven to reduce drunk driving by 67%.

Howard Small was among those who testified in favor of the bill Thursday.

"My son's murderer came speeding down Colfax at approximately 100 mph and broadsided my son's car," said Small.

He told the Senate Judiciary Committee, if Colorado's current drunk driving laws were working, his son Ethan would still be alive. The 28-year-old was killed by a repeat drunk driver with a suspended license.

son killed
(credit: CBS)

"And that car became a murder weapon," said Small.

The bill by Senators John Cooke and Chris Hansen would require the installation of an ignition interlock. The device measures blood alcohol and prevents a car from starting if the driver is drunk.

(credit: CBS)

For people with three DUIs, the bill goes a step further and requires continuous alcohol monitoring for 90 days.

"Seventy-five to 80% of people will continue to drive with a suspended license, so we would rather them be able to get an ignition interlock, drive legally, and learn to separate drinking and driving," says Fran Lanzer, Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Colorado, which is the driving force behind the bill.

He says three months is the minimum time needed to change behavior.

"The research would show that 90 days is the appropriate amount for continuous alcohol monitoring to make that change happen," said Lanzer.

Howard Small would give anything to see his son again. He can't change the past but he is hoping state lawmakers change the future

"We can never hug and say, 'I love you' ever again, any action that can be taken to prevent another death, must absolutely be taken," testified Small.

MADD Colorado says interlocks stopped 15,365 attempts to drive drunk in Colorado in 2020.

The bill has bipartisan support and no opposition, passing its first committee unanimously.

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