Repeat DUI offenders in Colorado may soon face harsher penalties
If passed, a new bill in Colorado would make it a felony to receive a DUI conviction four or more times.
In the near future, DUI offenders in Colorado may face tougher penalties for drinking and driving multiple times. According to 9 News, lawmakers want to make a fourth drunk driving conviction an offense that comes with felony charges. Currently, Colorado is just one of five states in the country that only applies misdemeanor charges to multiple DUI convictions.
Although this bill mainly applies to those who receive four or more DUIs, this bill would also apply to third-time DUI offenders in certain situations. For example, a third DUI conviction would be considered a felony if the driver flees the scene, damages property, has a blood alcohol concentration level at or above 0.15 or has a child with him or her in the car.
Why similar bills have failed
Lawmakers in the state, according to 9 News, have previously tried to pass a bill that makes it a felony to receive multiple DUIs. However, their attempts to do this have failed because of concerns about the costs legislation like this would pose to both the judicial and prison system.
Opponents of this particular bill are also worried that applying felony penalties to multiple DUI offenses reduces the emphasis on providing treatment to repeat offenders who struggle with an alcohol addiction. However, supporters of this legislation believe that it has a good chance of passing in 2015.
Current penalties in Colorado
Although felony DUI penalties would make driving drunk multiple times a severe offense, the consequences for drinking and driving in Colorado just once or twice are still serious. According to the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services, a driver who is convicted of drinking and driving for the first time may:
Have his or her license suspended for a period of nine months and may have 12 points added to his or her driver’s license
Be required to spend between five days to a year in jail
Have to pay a fine of $600 to $1,000 and perform between 48 to 96 hours of community service
Comparatively, a second-time DUI offender may have his or her driver’s license suspended for a period of 12 months and may also have 12 points added to it. Additionally, he or she may have to spend between 10 days to a year in jail, pay a fine of $600 to $1500 and spend 48 to 120 hours performing community service.
Those who are arrested for DUI in Colorado may be worried about how the penalties of a possible conviction could harm them financially and legally. If you were recently arrested for drinking and driving, consult with an attorney to determine what you can do to protect your legal rights.