While lawmakers in Denver continue to debate over the renewed possibility of a Colorado DUI felony law, one incensed district attorney voiced his support for the bill through Twitter.
At 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler tweeted to his followers a link to a story about a DUI incident in Weld County this past January, where a man charged with driving under the influence had crashed his car into another, killing the other vehicle's driver and his passengers — in this case, a father and his two sons. What especially riled up Brauchler was that the alleged offender in this case not only had a blood alcohol content level of .208, almost triple the legal limit, but had also been convicted of DUI in Colorado five times before.
For Brauchler and many others across the state, the notion that any motorist charged with DUI multiple times can still be allowed to drive freely presents a public safety hazard, and one that a new bill aims to change. That legislation, House Bill 1043, would seek to make any driver's third Colorado DUI offense in seven years — or fourth in their lifetime — an automatic felony. To date, a DUI in Colorado is by default treated as a misdemeanor. That charge is only upgraded to a felony in the event that a DUI offense also includes an instance of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault.
Whether that bill will become law remains to be seen. As The Denver Post notes, although the House Judiciary Committee gave the go-ahead to the bill last month, it still needs to pass the House Finance Committee before either the House or Senate can vote on it. However, House Bill 1043 has not yet been scheduled for the Finance Committee's next three meetings, so when exactly they'll address it remains unknown.
Although House Bill 1043 has enjoyed support from Democrats and Republicans alike, many cite the additional costs as a major thorn in the bill's side — and the primary reason why Democrats in the past have voted against the legislation. According to the Post, while cost analysis estimates of the bill run fairly broad, one projection shows that, if passed, the law could increase related incarceration expenses from $2.4 million per year to $13.4 million by the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
If you've been charged with a DUI in Colorado and are worried about the negative impact a trial verdict may have on your life — which can range from steep fines to time served in prison — contact The Orr Law Firm right away. Our expert team of locally based DUI attorneys can provide exactly the legal counsel you need.