In November, 57-year-old Denny Lovern was indicted on nine separate charges stemming from a DUI arrest by a grand jury in Arapahoe County. Generally, DUI cases do not go before the grand jury for a felony indictment, however prosecutors deemed that it was appropriate in this particular case due to Colorado’s relatively lenient laws regarding multiple DUI offenders.
No Felony DUIs
Lovern reportedly has 16 prior convictions for DUI, arising out of 20 different alcohol-related traffic citations. However, multiple DUIs are not classified as a felony no matter how many prior convictions you may have on your criminal record. This means that the maximum sentence for a standard DUI charge–even with multiple priors–would be one year in prison. For this reason, prosecutors often try to combine other felony charges with DUI in an attempt to secure more extended prison sentences.
In Lovern’s case, because the arrest occurred following an accident and because of his past record, prosecutors were able to convince the grand jury to indict on charges that included:
- Attempted assault in the first degree
- Attempted manslaughter
- Habitual criminal charges
Calling for New DUI Laws
The prosecutor criticized DUI laws in Colorado for being “weak” due to the lack of felony charges, and states that the department plans to pursue additional felony charges in multiple DUI cases in the future, sending the cases to the grand jury. The prosecutor called for the legislature to pass more stringent laws for habitual DUI offenders.
Legislative bills regarding felony DUI laws have been introduced twice in two years in Colorado, but neither bill passed. Some opposers claimed that the was not enough evidence that such a bill would actually increase safety on the streets. Instead, opposers claimed that law enforcement officers should increase DUI arrest efforts such as roadblocks and saturation patrols. They stated the fear of getting stopped would deter drunk drivers without the need for stricter felony DUI laws. A third bill is planned to be on the table in January of 2015, which would allow for felony charges for a fourth lifetime DUI or for a third DUI within a five-year period of time. With an increased budget and alleged bipartisan support, legislators supporting the bill are more hopeful for success.
Even though Colorado does not yet have a felony DUI charge, every DUI case is still a serious matter. DUI convictions may mean substantial fines, time spent on probation, alcohol classes, and jail time. For this reason, you should always have the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney in your case.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Denver for Help With Your Case Today
At the Tiftickjian Law Firm, we are committed to helping individuals in and around Denver fight against DUI charges. We have an extensive understanding of how DUI laws in Colorado apply to each individual case and we strive to achieve the best possible outcome for every client. If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, contact our office today to talk about how we can help you.