The Denver Post Blog reports today that the bill to punish repeat DUI offenses as felonies died in a Senate Committee.
The proposal would have made it a class 4 felony to sustain three such convictions in a seven year span or four in a lifetime.
Senator Mary Hodge, chairperson of the Senate Appropriations committee specified two reasons for rejecting the proposal this year:
“First, I think more emphasis needs to be put on addressing the disease of alcoholism and not us locking people up. Second, the bill was changed to take effect next year. Because of that, I think next year’s appropriations committee should address it.”
Denver DUI attorney Jay Tiftickjian, who testified in opposition to the bill earlier this year on behalf of the Colorado defense bar, says it is good for the short term, but he is certain that the threat of a multiple offender felony will be brought up in future legislative sessions.
The proposal had previously passed the House, 56-6.
There is no question that the bill’s defeat will be used as political ammunition in this election year, and it is just as certain to be introduced again next year. For now, however, Colorado, despite tough DUI laws in general, remains just one of four states to reject felony penalties for repeated DUI offenders.