Compared with other states, Colorado used to have much laxer penalties for individuals convicted of DUIs, but a new bill helps Colorado join 45 other states in increasing the penalties for people who receive multiple DUI convictions. Previously, if a DUI conviction did not include an aggravating offense, it would only be considered a misdemeanor, but this new bill automatically makes a 4th DUI a felony regardless of whether or not there were aggravating circumstances. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the DUI felony bill into law in early 2014, but it did not take effect until Wednesday, August 5, 2015, after Colorado voters had been given a chance to block it. Although the bill will not have a substantial effect on first time offenders, it aims to prevent significant damage and pain to Colorado drivers and pedestrians by reducing the number of repeat DUI offenders on the road.
The New Felony DUI Bill’s Increased Penalties
Even a first-time DUI can have staggering consequences, possibly including a year in prison and $1,000 in fines. Additional DUIs can lead to more prison time or community service requirements, additional fines and driving restrictions including the installation of an IID (or ignition interlock device) in your car or the suspension of your license. Under the new DUI felony bill, a 4th DUI conviction can result in $500,000 in fines and six years in prison.
Whom Will This Bill Affect?
Although even one DUI can have serious consequences for the intoxicated individual as well as others injured from the drunk driving, this bill targets repeat offenders who have shown a proclivity to violate Colorado’s drunk driving statutes. The Colorado DUI laws had come under fire in recent years for their failure to keep repeat offenders off the road, and many of the penalties were viewed as just a slap on the wrist that did not prevent drunk drivers from driving again. While several other states have a “look back provision” that limits the time period in which DUI convictions can be accumulated, the Colorado DUI felony law takes any DUIs into account, regardless of whether they were two or 22 years ago.
How Can an Attorney Influence a Case?
This new law makes it possible for judges to impose stricter penalties on repeat DUI offenders – but it does not require them to do so. The approval of the new DUI felony bill has been controversial because many critics question whether prison is too expensive and whether it is the best way to prevent repeat incidents. Several judges also prefer alternative ways to keep drunk drivers off the road and may find different penalties for DUI recipients depending on the independent facts of the case, how a lawyer presents them and whether the individual accused of driving while intoxicated has demonstrated a willingness to overcome his or her substance abuse problems. The DUI attorneys at Colorado’s Tiftickjian Law Firm are experienced in all facets of DUI convictions and are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of individuals who have been accused of drunk driving or other crimes. To schedule your free case evaluation with one of our experienced drunk driving attorneys, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) DUI-5280.