Colorado’s new felony DUI bill will put the state in line with 46 of the others in the country, all of whom have legislation in place to treat certain drunk driving cases as felony crimes. Colorado’s bill, House Bill 1043, was passed 34-1 by the Colorado Senate and was sent to the governor’s office for signing last month. Its supporters hope to revolutionize DUI penalties to protect future drivers and potential victims.
Prior to House Bill 1043, Colorado legislators tried to pass the first felony DUI motions over 10 years ago, and have had three unsuccessful pieces of legislature in the last three years. Governor John Hickenlooper has already given his public support for the legislation and stated earlier this year that the bill’s passage was a significant priority for 2015.
Existing Law vs. Proposed Changes
Currently, Colorado law categorizes drunk driving penalties according to the number of times a specific driver has been caught driving under the influence. However, the new bill intends to crack down on those who have been convicted three or more times on drunk driving charges by making it a Class 4 felony for such repeat offenders.
Under the state’s current law, drunk drivers are required to surrender their driver’s licenses once they have been convicted. The new bill seeks to add additional penalties for multiple offenses — for example, anyone charged with a second DUI offense will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in his or her vehicle for the two years following a conviction. With an IID installed, a vehicle will not start until the driver provides a breath sample, and even then, if the driver is not sober, the car cannot be turned on.
Third-time DUI offenders will be required to complete “significant community corrections” courses, and drivers convicted a fourth time could be sentenced to up to six years in prison due to the Class 4 felony classification. Last year in Colorado, more than 24,100 drunk driving cases were opened and state analysts estimate that almost 1,800 people are charged with their fourth DUI or more every year.
The bill’s sponsors say that the harsher penalties will hopefully deter drunk drivers from making the mistake more than once and cut down on accidents and DUI-related collisions by keeping repeat offenders from physically driving their vehicles.
At Levine Law, a Colorado-based firm, our attorneys represent anyone who has been injured or who has lost a loved one due to another driver’s decision to get behind the wheel after a night of partying or just having one drink too many.
Drunk driving is dangerous and can have devastating consequences for the driver, passengers and anyone else on the road. Our Denver personal injury attorneys hope that with the passage of the felony DUI bill in the state, fewer people will be victimized by DUI-related offenses.