Colorado is one of the few jurisdictions in the United States that has no felony charge for repeat DUI offenders. This does not mean that you may not face more strict penalties for multiple DUI charges, as Colorado does have minimum sentencing requirements that increase with each subsequent DUI. Despite more serious potential consequences, at this time, whether it is your first or fifth DUI arrest, you will not face felony charges. Only Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the District of Columbia join Colorado in having no felony DUI.
In the past few years, numerous legislators have proposed new laws that would create a felony DUI charge for repeat offenders. Though these efforts have failed in the past, yet another proposal has been introduced for vote by the state legislature for the new 2015 session. If passed, this proposal would amend Colorado law allow prosecutors to issue class 4 felony charges for a third DUI offense in certain cases.
The number of prior DUI convictions that warrant a felony charge varies widely from state to state, as follows:
|No felony DUI charge||Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania|
|2nd offense is a felony||Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma|
|3rd offense is a felony||Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia|
|4th offense is a felony||Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Wyoming|
|5th offense is a felony||Washington|
Some states have what is referred to as a “look-back period” when it comes to felony DUI charges. For example, Indiana requires that a second DUI offense be within five years of the first conviction in order to warrant felony charges. The proposed law in Colorado has a look-back period of seven years for the 3rd offense, but no look-back period for subsequent offenses. This means that a fourth offense would be charged as a felony DUI no matter how much time had passed since the last conviction.
The newest bill has been proposed by District 63 Representative Lori Saine out of Weld County. Rep. Saine has stated that she believes the bill will pass this session because of increased bipartisan support from last year. If the bill passes, DUI charges for multiple offenders may become significantly more serious and offenders may face much harsher penalties as a result. We will keep you posted on the progress of this legislation in the coming months.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Denver for Help Today
It is always important to avoid any DUI convictions on your record, especially in light of the possible changes in Colorado law. An experienced Denver DUI attorney will know how to identify any possible legal defenses in your case in order to build the most aggressive defense against your charges as necessary. If you have been charged with DUI or DWAI in Colorado, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm for help today.