Almost everyone understands the dangers of drunk driving. Years of national ad campaigns and public education efforts have made it clear to nearly everyone that those who drink and drive put themselves and the lives of innocent motorists at risk of involvement in violent motor vehicle crashes that often end in severe injuries or fatalities.

Almost, nearly everyone

You probably noticed that we said that “almost everyone” and “nearly everyone” knows how dangerous it is to drive while impaired by alcohol. Not everyone has gotten the clear message, it seems, including a Denver police officer who was recently arrested for DUI after “driving directly toward” a fatal multi-vehicle wreck on Interstate 25.

According to a news report, it was not clear whether the veteran officer was on-duty or off, but investigators said it was obvious that he had open alcohol containers in the unmarked Denver Police vehicle.

A TV station report said all northbound I-25 lanes were closed down at the time of the arrest, so they are not sure how the officer made it on to the highway. According to a Greenwood Village police spokesperson, “officers saw a dark colored Chevy driving directly towards the fatal accident scene which involved seven vehicles.”

Stopped in time

Multiple police vehicles were already on the crash scene with their red-and-blue lights on. The apparently intoxicated cop was driving toward the accident when he was stopped by other officers. They noticed signs that he was drunk (and the open containers) and began a DUI investigation.

The impaired officer was also in possession of a handgun at the time, reports stated.

He “was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, prohibited use of weapons, careless driving and open alcoholic container in a motor vehicle.”

We can all be grateful that he did not cause a second crash and more loss of life.

Grim statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of nearly 30 people die in drunk driving crashes every day. While drunk driving fatalities have declined by nearly a third over the past 30 years, we still lose about 10,000 lives annually to impaired drivers.

A veteran police officer should know at least as well as the rest of us reckless and stupid it is to put himself and others in such clear danger. Let’s hope that he and others tempted to drink and drive get the help they need to become safer, smarter and more responsible.