Colorado State Patrol to Country Jam Festival Fans: The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ Anymore

For four days every year the country fans of America get their own Woodstock: the Colorado music festival known as Country Jam. But this year’s fest was not all pickin’ and singin’: there was some patrollin’ and arrestin’ going on as well. Colorado State Patrol made certain that the Jam Ranch was one terrible place to drink and drive. And most of the attendees got the message.

Few DUIs at Country Jam in Colorado this yearLast week fans arrived en masse for the concerts in cars, trucks, campers and on motorbikes.  After four days of fun and music, one would think the Jam Ranch would be fertile ground for anyone hunting drunk drivers.

So did the police, who set up patrols on I-70 from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. for six consecutive days to catch anyone who might be impaired. In the old Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound days, patrols would net 50 or more DUIs. But by the third day of this year’s festival, just 2 arrests were reported.

This is a dramatic change in public drinking behavior. From news reports, people were camping out at the festival and, if they’d been drinking, were sobering up for the last day so they could drive home with their heads and driving records clear.

What has changed? Enforcement has helped a great deal: saturation patrols have raised awareness of the chance of arrest, and sobriety checkpoints, which are legal in Colorado, have kept anti-DUI efforts constantly in the public eye.

But not everyone fears punishment. There are outlaw types too: what if you’re the only hell your mama every raised? What’s making you stay sober while driving?

In a word, attitude. The public is losing patience with drunk drivers, and the trend toward stricter laws, social host restrictions, and ignition interlock requirements is proof of it. Impaired driving isn’t amusing anymore – it’s seen as the lethal activity it really is. And those who drink and drive are finding less and less sympathy as years go by.

We salute the Colorado State Patrol, and all the safety advocates who have been spreading the message far and wide – because people come from far and wide to Country Jam. Changes in drunk driving statistics don’t happen by chance, not at this magnitude. A lot of people worked very hard to make a common but deadly practice unfashionable.

These days, in Colorado, most drivers walk the line.