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Despite bipartisan support, Colorado DUI felony bill headed for legal challenges

Despite bipartisan support, Colorado DUI felony bill headed for legal challenges

While a new Colorado DUI felony bill may have found backing among both Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, the legislation still faces a number of obstacles ahead of its possible passage into law, not the least of which is cost.

If passed, the bill would make three DUI offenses over a seven-year period, or four over a driver's lifetime, an automatic felony in Colorado, landing a convicted motorist in prison for two to six years. Although previous attempts had been made (and failed) at creating a similar law in the past, this new legislation has found momentum on both sides of the aisle, with the governor lending his support to it during last month's State of the State address. However, some have raised concerns about the law's practicality or even usefulness in helping to improve public safety.

The bill's price tag has also become a thorn in the side of many legislators. According to the Denver Post, an initial cost analysis of the bill estimates it would bring additional state court and prison expenses of anywhere from $282,000 to $2.4 million over the next fiscal year, a figure that could grow to as much as $13.4 million by 2018.

But for proponents, the cost factor is negligible when weighed against the possibility of incarceration for repeat DUI offenders.

"It's a hard math to do, but this is the question we raised last year: What is the cost of not doing this," one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, told the Post.

Being charged of a DUI in Colorado, felony or not, can have accused motorists looking at jail time, steep fines and a revoked driver's license. If you find yourself charged with a DUI and need expert legal counsel to defend your case, reach out to The Orr Law Firm today.

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