Colorado is one of only four states in the U.S. that does not have a felony criminal statute for DUI offenses. That, however, could change very soon. As reported by The Colorado Statesman, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed House Bill 1043—a bill that would make some repeat DUI offenses a felony. The committee's passing puts the bill one, critical step closer to becoming law.
HB 1043 would affect the following offenses:
- A fourth DUI
- A third DUI in seven years that includes aggravating factors (causing major injuries, having children in the car, etc.)
The proposed felony penalties include a six year prison sentence and up to $500,000 in fines. In January, Governor John Hickenlooper said that the bill would be "a priority," but a similar bill in Colorado failed last year due to cost concerns.
Mixed Support for Felony Penalties
Senator John Cooke is one of the bill's sponsors and was in an accident with a drunk driver last year. Still, he maintains that harsher sentences, like prison time, should be used as a last resort. Senator Mike Johnson, another bill sponsor, voiced the intended aim of the bill at last week's hearing: "When you have the case of someone who is a serial drunk driver with 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 DUIs, who is putting people's lives at risk, there is the opportunity for this person to serve time in prison [before an accident happens]."
Not everyone is in support of adopting harsher DUI penalties, however. The Colorado Criminal Defense Bar voiced the same concerns it did for 2014's unsuccessful bill. According to the organization, the bill, which is now moving on to Finance and the Appropriations Committee, does nothing to address the root cause of repeat drunk driving offenses: alcoholism.
If you have been charged with a DUI, then time is of the essence. Contact the experienced The Samuelson Law Firm today. Our experienced and knowledgeable Colorado Springs DUI is ready to assess your case and, if necessary, start fighting on your behalf immediately.
Contact our firm for a free case evaluation today.