The Denver Post reported on its blog this week that Rep. Mark Waller will seek to revitalize the push for a felony DUI law in Colorado when the legislative session begins later this year. The bill would seek to make a third DUI conviction within seven years a Class 4 felony, punishable up to 6 years in prison.
Last year, a similar bill was proposed by Waller but failed to make it through the Senate due to budgetary concerns.
Under current Colorado DUI law, the maximum possible penalty a person could face for a multiple offense is one year in the county jail and a misdemeanor conviction. This new proposed law will create a larger number of felony cases throughout the State, says Denver DUI attorney Jay Tiftickjian. In addition, it would be the most substantial increase in potential penalty for a DUI offense that this State has ever seen. While the mandatory minimum sentences were recently raised to 60 days for a third-time offender, the maximum sentence has always stood at a year despite the amount of convictions on a defendant’s record.
This new law, if passed, would increase the amount of felons in the State and the amount of taxpayer dollars appointed to housing inmates in the Department of Corrections. A recent survey in 2012 estimated the cost to house a prisoner was over $30,000 for a year.
Proponents of the new legislation say that the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor DUI conviction is not a deterrent enough and does not punish multiple offenders adequately. In addition, many states have a felony DUI law for multiple DUI convictions.
One thing is for sure: Colorado DUI laws get tougher on offenders every year. One is always wise to avoid the court system by making good choices and avoiding drunk or drugged driving.