We all know people that have been affected by a drunk driver, or at the very least have heard the horrific stories of what can happen in a drunk driving accident, As of today, a new felony DUI law has gone into effect in the State of Colorado.
With this law in effect, Colorado becomes the 46th state to implement a felony DUI law. Under former laws in Colorado, DUI convictions were simply a misdemeanor crime, and drivers would be back on the roads soon after. These repeat offenders continued to be a danger to others as they were given the privilege of driving even after multiple arrests for the same offense.
This new law, House Bill 15-1043, makes the fourth DUI conviction a felony. As a result of being charged with this felony DUI, the individual could serve between four and six years in prison and could be hit with a fine as high as $500,000. One unique factor of this law is that the previous DUI convictions can be from any state. If the driver gets their fourth DUI in Colorado, they will fall under this new law.
The other 45 states that have enacted this felony DUI law have varying time frames of when the offense is charged as a felony. Four states (IN, MN, NY, OK) make the second offense a felony; for AK, AZ, CT, DE, FL, ID, IL, IA, KS, MA, MI, WV, VA, VT, UT, TX, SD, RI, NC, NV, MO, MS it is the third offense; AL, AR, CA, CO, GA, HI, KY, LA, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, OH, OR, SC, TN, WI and WY have the fourth offense as a felony charge; and WA allows up to 5 DUI’s before charging the person with a felony DUI.
While for some, it may seem like these states allow for too much leeway in the amounts of DUI’s before a felony charge, these felony DUI laws are a step in the right direction. The battle for Colorado’s DUI law was borne out of a push by lawmakers to stop unneeded tragedies that can result from a DUI, and is a welcome sight for those that have been affected by such events.