As a personal injury law firm, we have seen firsthand the devastation caused by drunk drivers. It’s hard to believe that Colorado along with Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. are the only states that do not charge repeat DUI offenders with a felony. But, a new bill to charge repeat DUI offenders with a felony is one step closer to becoming a law in Colorado. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill last week and it now moves on to the House Finance Committee.
Currently in Colorado, repeat drunk drivers are charged with a misdemeanor which may include fines and up to one year in the county jail―no matter how many DUI convictions they may have. A felony DUI charge would include prison with harsher sentences. Under the new bill, a repeat DUI offender would receive a felony charge on the fourth DUI offense or on the third offense if there are aggravating circumstances such as having a BAC of .15 or higher, if there an underage person in the car, if there is property damage, if the offender has left the scene of the crash and if someone suffered injuries due to the drunk driving crash.
According to a Fox 31 report, every year nearly 12,000 Colorado drivers commit a repeat DUI offense.
Consider these Colorado drunk driver stories:
Opponents of the bill claim it would cost the taxpayers too much to enforce, prosecute and jail these repeat offenders. Supporters of the bill claim that this cost is much lower at approximately Opponents also claim that treatment to help those addicted to drugs or alcohol is a better solution to reduce repeat DUI offenders. Other solutions offered by those opposing this bill include more DUI checkpoints and more police presence during high alcohol consumption periods.
Most would argue that a felony conviction with a harsher prison sentence isn’t going to deter these habitual offenders from drinking and getting behind the wheel again. But it might keep one drunk or drugged driver off the road and keep their next victim safe. If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a drunk or drugged driver, contact the Bendinelli Law Firm, P.C. for a free and confidential consultation with a Denver car accident attorney.