Colorado’s New Felony DUI Law: Will It Do More Harm Than Good?
It is common knowledge that DUI laws vary from state to state. And, as a result, the way that offenders are prosecuted is just as variable. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is neither here nor there. It is simply the way the system works and something we should all be aware of.
When it comes to being an informed driver, understanding your state’s DUI laws will put you ahead of the curve when you get behind the wheel. After all, we think everyone would agree — when it comes to driving laws, ignorance is not bliss.
New Laws, Different Sentencing Options
Recently, Colorado lawmakers approved changes to the way that habitual drunk drivers are convicted in the state. The result? A messy and somewhat confusing situation in which similar crimes receive wildly different sentences.
One of the major sticking points of this new law is the way in which fourth-time offenders are prosecuted. While the old law required all offenders with three or more misdemeanor drunk driving charges to spend 60 days in jail, the new law allows judges a wider breadth of discretion in terms of mandating jail time.
Although the new law allows a fourth DUI conviction to carry a sentence of up to six years in prison, there is no mandatory jail or prison time. As a result, some offenders have wound up in prison, while others have gone straight to probation. At last count, two-thirds of those convicted did not serve jail time.
The district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, Peter Weir, explains, “The public lobbied hard to get the felony DUI in the law, but if the public expected these guys to go to prison, that’s not happening very often.”
To many, it seems that the new law is not being interpreted the way it was intended. Rep. Lori Saine is one such supporter of the law who believes there is a little too much interpretation at play. “Sometimes jail and prison is the most compassionate choice,” she explains. She hopes that mandatory incarceration time might be achieved in the next session of legislation.
In the meantime, we expect the sentences to continue to vary widely. But what does this mean for you? Well, as a driver, it is always best to avoid potential incarceration. Drinking and driving is dangerous for everyone involved. So if you do decide to drink, we ask you to make smart choices when it comes time to head home.
A Denver Accident Attorney Can Help
That said, we know that sometimes even the best intentions do not work out as planned. There’s a chance that you may find yourself involved in an accident that was caused by an intoxicated driver. After the event, you may be at a loss for where to turn or what to do to get your life back on track.
Rest assured, we are ready and willing to help. So, if you have questions about your legal rights, feel free to contact us. Levine Law is here to help you determine how best to move forward.