The Sixty-Ninth Session of the Colorado General Assembly wraps up on Wednesday. Colorado DUI law will certainly change in the near future based on the number of bills that are either waiting the governor’s signature or are still pending in the legislative process. The new proposed laws affect first-time DUI offenders as well as multiple offense DUI cases.
First, the good news. HB 1077 seeks to restore a defense to a DMV hearing arising from a DUI arrest. The bill has been approved in both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Commonly known by Denver DUI lawyers as The “Francen fix” because it will essentially negate a recent controversial court ruling that held a driver cannot contest the legality of the police contact in an express consent hearing. If Governor Hickenlooper signs this bill, and it is expected that he will, a driver may again contest whether a law enforcement officer had a reasonable suspicion to pull someone him or her over when conducting a DUI stop.
Another bill that passed in both the House and Senate is HB 1240. This bill, entitled Penalties for Persistent Drunk Drivers, and referred to as the “Interlock Bill,” assists drivers that lose their driver’s license as a result of a first refusal in a DUI case. Currently, refusing a test in Colorado leads to a one-year driver’s license revocation with no opportunity for a probationary license or early reinstatement. This new proposed law would allow drivers that have been revoked for one-year for a first offense refusal the ability to early reinstate after two months of no driving. The reinstatement comes with a catch, as the driver will have to drive with an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle for two-years. In addition, the bill allows for driver’s license suspensions and revocations based on a DUI conviction run concurrent to an administrative revocation, which is currently not the case.
HB 1240 also lowers the BAC limit in order to be tagged with a 2-year interlock reinstatement requirement upon a first offense revocation. Currently, a driver that is revoked at a DMV hearing due to a drunk driving arrest with a BAC of 0.17 or more is required to hold an ignition interlock restricted driver’s for two-years upon reinstatement. This new proposed law lowers the limit, referred to as a persistent drunk driver enhancement, to a BAC of 0.15 or more.
Finally, the THC legal inference bill came back again in HB 1325. The bill was introduced in the House last week after being killed in the Senate twice already this year. Its persistence is not expected to pay off, but it will certainly be back in 2014. Currently, the bill seeks to create an inference of drug intoxication in Colorado DUI law if a driver’s blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of blood.
Once the session ends, Denver DUI attorneys and motorists accused of drunk driving will need to be updated accordingly.