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Could Repeat Offender's Fatal DUI Crash Push Lawmakers to Pass Felony DUI Law?

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One development we've been following over the past month has been a renewed push among the state legislature for a Colorado DUI felony bill. In Colorado, unless a driver hurts somebody else while driving under the influence, a DUI is treated as a misdemeanor, no matter how many times a single motorist may be charged. But a new bipartisan bill would seek to make three DUI offenses in seven years — or four over a driver's lifetime — an automatic felony, in an attempt to discourage repeat offenders from getting back out on the road. Although Governor Hickenlooper gave his support to the bill in his recent State of the State address, the real straw that breaks the camel's back could be a new fatal DUI accident that occurred in Weld County last weekend.

Local affiliate NBC 9 News reports that a 44-year-old suspected drunk driver, who had been arrested for DUI in Colorado eight previous times, crashed his Dodge pickup into a Honda minivan on Highway 85 at Weld County Road 48. That collision, which occurred on Sunday, January 25, killed not the only the allegedly responsible driver, but the 37-year-old man driving the Honda and his two children, six and one years old.

While this incident is hardly the first time a repeat DUI offender was involved in a car crash, it could be the one that finally pushes lawmakers to pass a long-in-the-making DUI felony law.

"At some point I don't think it's a matter of punishment, it's a matter of public safety," the bill's co-sponsor, Senator Mike Johnston, D-Denver, tells CBS 4 News. "If you're going to keep driving drunk, I can't let you put people's lives in danger that many times for public safety."

Whether or not this bill ultimately does pass, drivers accused of DUI in Colorado today may still face serious penalties, including a revoked driver's license, hefty fines and even time in jail. For expert legal counsel that can defend your case from these possibilities, contact The Orr Law Firm.