Colorado weighs making multiple DUIs a felony
Those who drive drunk in Colorado may soon be facing felonies instead of misdemeanors. In the past, driving under the influence has been a misdemeanor with a maximum of a one year sentence in the county jail, no matter how many prior DUI convictions the person has. Five other states currently follow this same approach.
On March 18, however, lawmakers in Colorado gave their initial approval of a bill that would make some DUI offenses felonies instead of misdemeanors. Former prosecutor, Rep. Mark Waller is carrying the bill. The bill would change the laws so that if a person gets three DUIs over a span of seven years, or gets four DUIs in the person’s lifetime, the offense changes to a felony.
Proponents of the bill believe that by the time a person receives that many offenses, the consequences should be higher and that by putting the felony charge on the table, it may increase the chances that offenders would finish treatment. The Colorado Defense Bar does not agree, however. One defense bar representative said that the resources would be better spent on more DUI court and rehabilitation.
If the bill does officially pass and become law, it could significantly impact the criminal defense strategy used in these types of cases. A felony carries more serious penalties than a misdemeanor, and a felony conviction may impact a person’s ability to get a job even after the sentence has been served. For those with prior DUI convictions, it will become even more important to understand all of the circumstances surrounding the charges and arrest.
Source: CBS Denver, “New Bill Would Change Some DUI Offenses To Felonies” No author given, Mar. 18, 2014