On February 21st, 2013 the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 13-1214. This Bill will modify the charge for repeat DUI offenders who would have received a misdemeanor, and will now receive felony charges. “Colorado is one of just five states left with no felony DUI law, so you can be convicted of your fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh DUI and get the same penalty every time” said House Minority Leader Mark Waller, the bill’s sponsor. (Link)
The purpose of this bill is to remove any incentive for repeat offenders to drink and drive. Waller stated “now, if you have the possibility of a felony hanging over your head, that’ll be more of a deterrent.” (Link) The Bill has an estimated cost of $16 million, which may have been why similar legislation has failed in recent years. Waller believes that the declining prison population and improved revenue of the State makes the Bill’s cost easier to absorb at this time.
This new legislation will increase the charges brought against repeat DUI offenders. The new Bill will make it so “driving under the influence is a misdemeanor, but it is a Class 5 Felony if: the violation occurred not more than seven years after the first of two prior convictions…or the violation occurred after three prior convictions.” (Link)
“The Bill is designed to prevent crashes like the one involving Zachariah Dobler.” (Link) Dobler was a repeat DUI offender, with three prior DUI convictions. Dobler was driving while intoxicated and crashed into a tow truck killing Alan Dilley last year. At the conference, more stories were shared of repeat DUI offenders who had injured and killed innocent bystanders, such as fellow Bill supporter, Geoff Grenzke, who shared his personal story of being involved in a DUI accident.
According to supporters of the bill, with the present law, multiple DUI offenders lack a deterrent that would prevent them from wanting to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, and they lack judicial motivation to get the help/treatment that they really need. Waller believes that the threat of a felony may persuade a driver convicted of DUI to avoid prison time by receiving court-ordered treatment.
The Bill has gained support from the Colorado State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P), a voice of the Colorado law Enforcement. They believe that “the bill will send a strong message to not only DUI offenders, but also to the citizens of Colorado, that this state will no longer tolerate repeat DUI offenses and thus support preventable deaths and injuries in Colorado.” (Link) The F.O.P, Waller, Grenzke, and other supporters of the Bill have one major focus, which is to protect the citizens and the well being of the State.
With the constantly changing DUI laws in Colorado, it is important to have experienced legal representation on your side if you are facing DUI charges or repeat DUI charges. Contact us at 720-863-7755 today to see how we can help you!