This is an edited excerpt from a news story on KOAA.com
[A district attorney] estimates that his prosecutors have charged at least 100 felony cases in the Pikes Peak Region since the law was enacted last August. Fifteen of those cases resulted in prison sentences, and around 70 are still going through the courts.
In order to qualify for a felony charge, prosecutors must prove that a defendant has at least four previous DUI convictions on their record. Data collected by the Colorado Judicial Branch indicates that 1,177 cases have been filed statewide where at least one Class 4 Felony is attached, an average of 98 cases a month.
State lawmakers passed the habitual drunk driver law in 2015 with that deterrent effect in mind. Traffic fatality data published by the Colorado State Patrol show 182 people died in suspected drunk driving crashes in Colorado last year. To date, there have been 109 such crashes in 2016.
Maile Gray, executive director of Drive Smart Colorado, said for every drunk driver who is arrested, hundreds more could be on the roads.
"A person drives (drunk) a minimum of 80 times, I've heard between 80 and 200 times, before they are actually contacted by law enforcement," Gray said.
In addition to the stricter penalties, the law made it easier for patrol officers to access criminal history information during traffic stops to see whether a suspect qualifies for the felony charge. Gray said both tools are necessary to keep the public safe.
"Anything that law enforcement can do to keep our roads safer and free of impaired drivers, whether it's alcohol or drugs, the better."
If you find yourself charged with a DUI or DUI felony, please contact us at The Orr Law Firm as soon as possible via phone or email.