Winter in Colorado is beautiful. The landscapes are breathtaking, but the roads can be treacherous. Winter weather can make driving on Colorado’s roads much more difficult due to snow and ice. Drivers must be cautious when traveling during winter months to avoid accidents. We answered several questions you may have regarding winter in Colorado.

Do accidents increase during the winter or decrease?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, twenty-three percent of all accidents are weather-related. While most weather-related accidents occur on wet roads or during rainfall, snow and ice are contributing factors in many wintertime accidents. Because of the hazardous driving conditions due to winter weather, the number of automobile accidents can increase during the winter months.

The Colorado Department of Transportation works to keep the roads clear of snow and ice but warns drivers of the dangers of driving during winter months. You can reduce your risk of being in a wintertime accident by practicing safe and cautious driving.

How do you practice defensive driving?

You cannot control the weather conditions and you cannot control the other drivers on the road; you can, however, take steps to protect yourself when driving in Colorado this winter.

  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Never use radial tires and other types of tires at the same time
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full during the winter
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated
  • Keep your focus on the road ahead.
  • Limit distractions while you’re driving
  • Reduce your speed limit – speed limits are designed for optimal road conditions
  • Allow more space between you and other vehicles to allow for sudden stops or sliding
  • Reduce speed when approaching bridges and overpasses (these sections of road freeze and become icy more quickly)
  • Have a travel plan before leaving home and allow extra time to reach your destination
  • Use low-beam headlights for better visibility in fog and snow
  • Clear snow and ice from the entire vehicle before leaving
  • Schedule a winter maintenance checkup for your vehicle to ensure all systems are operating correctly

What items should I keep in my car during the winter months?

Winter storms can hit very quickly in Colorado, leaving drivers stranded on the side of the road until help arrives. Due to driving conditions, some drivers are stuck for hours waiting on help to arrive. If you are stuck on the side of the road during the winter, you need to be prepared. It is suggested that you have these items in your car at all times during the winter months:

  • Blankets
  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables and a tool kit
  • Sand and/or cat litter
  • Tow rope and chains
  • Shovel
  • Road flares and warning lights
  • Waterproof matches and candles
  • Snowbrush and ice scraper

How do you gauge whether or not you are too tired to drive?

Driving while you are drowsy or tired is dangerous. AAA estimates that almost 17 percent of fatal car crashes involve drowsy driving. It also estimates that roughly 13 percent of car crashes involving hospitalizations were related to drowsy driving. Colorado’s ski resorts are a popular destination during the winter months. People enjoy skiing; however, driving after a day of skiing could be dangerous if you are too tired to drive.

If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you should consider an alternative to driving, such as using public transportation, switching drivers, or staying overnight:

  • Excessive yawning
  • Trouble keeping your head up (nodding)
  • Drifting into another lane while driving
  • Rubbing your eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Cannot remember details from the last few minutes
  • Excessive blinking

What do you do if you’ve been drinking?

Enjoying a few drinks with friends is something many people enjoy and it is perfectly legal, provided you are 21 years of age or older. However, driving under the influence or driving while impaired is illegal. If you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while impaired, you face serious penalties if convicted. These may include losing your license, spending time in jail, paying large fines, and performing community service.

The only way to avoid a DUI is not to drive. During the winter, it is difficult to drive even when you are sober, and having alcohol or drugs in your system would only make it that much more difficult and dangerous. Therefore, you should designate a driver who will remain completely sober to drive everyone home, call a cab, or call a friend. This ensures that everyone will get home safely.

What do you do if you’ve been pulled over for a DUI-related charge?

Remain calm and treat the officer with respect. You are not guilty of a DUI until the state proves its case; therefore, do not give the state additional any evidence to use against you. You can politely refuse to take the standardized field sobriety tests (i.e. one-leg stand, eye test, and the walk-and-turn test) without penalty.

At the station, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test. If you refuse this test, you may lose your driving privileges for up to one year. You may be able to get your driving privileges back or you may be eligible for limited driving privileges, but there is no guarantee. In either case, you need to contact a DUI attorney immediately. Even though you may be over the legal limit, you may have a valid defense to the charges or we may be able to minimize the consequences of a conviction.

Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Office of Andres R. Guevara is here to help you if you have been charged with a DUI. You are innocent until proven guilty; however, the state will use all of its resources to gain a conviction. You need an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to ensure that your legal rights are protected during the judicial process.

Contact our office to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. Don’t risk your future by ignoring a criminal charge. We can help.