Colorado Legislature Passes Felony DUI Bill – Over to You, Governor

Colorado wants to make 4th DUI a felonyColorado is on track to join the majority of US states that make it tough for drunk drivers to reoffend. A few days ago the State Senate gave its OK to House Bill 1043, which makes a fourth DUI a class 4 felony.

A word about felonies and felony DUI laws. Not everyone is aware of the difference between a misdemeanor and its more serious counterpart, the felony.

  • When misdemeanors result it jail terms, they are served in local or county jails. In Colorado those terms can be for up to 18 months.
  • Felons are sent to state prison. In Colorado felony prison terms are at least a year.
  • There are 6 classes of felonies in Colorado, ranging from Class 1 (e.g. first degree murder), carrying a sentence of life imprisonment, to Class 6 (e.g. possession of a controlled substance).
  • A Class 4 Felony is punishable by 2 to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. Other Class 4 felonies include sexual assault, criminal conspiracy, and manslaughter.

A fourth Colorado DUI will place offenders in pretty distressing company. The implication is that anyone who repeatedly drives drunk is a danger to the public, and must be treated as one.

Many states are even tougher on drunk drivers. Four states regard a second DUI as a felony, and 22 states use a third conviction as the benchmark. If the Governor signs the bill, Colorado will join 18 states that currently make the fourth conviction a felony.

And will Governor Hickenlooper sign the bill? He’s already down as a supporter.  If he’s really committed to making Colorado a safe and family-friendly state, he’ll get his pen out now.