Denver County has opened a felony DUI court geared towards sentencing and rehabilitating people facing Colorado’s new felony DUI law. Denver has long had a sobriety court designed for people with multiple prior alcohol or drug related driving offenses. The new felony DUI program was created through the cooperation of the courts, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, probation and pre-trial services and the Denver Sheriff’s Department.
Prior to August of 2015, Colorado was one of the few remaining states without a felony DUI law. The felony DUI law makes a fourth DUI or DWAI in a lifetime a class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies are punishable by up to 6 years in prison. However, by law, a felony DUI is still probation eligible, meaning the law allows a judge to sentence a person to probation with no jail or prison time. The new law specifically requires the court to consider a person’s desire and ability to complete treatment.
Denver’s RESTART program aims to provide appropriate candidates with treatment rather than to simply punish. RESTART stands for “Recognizing and Establishing Smart Treatment Alternatives for Recovery and Transition.” It is a three year program that involves multiple phases to include probation, intense community supervision and judicial oversight. Conditions of probation would 60 days of jail in the RISE program, participation in an intensive outpatient or inpatient program, alcohol monitoring and an interlock requirement as well as community service hours and attendance at a victim impact panel.
If a person is non-compliant while on probation, he or she may be subject to sanctions to include imposition of a prison sentence. Depending on a person’s circumstances, including driving record and facts of the case, a deferred judgment to the felony in exchange for a plea to a misdemeanor DUI or DWAI may be offered as a plea bargain. The type of plea bargain as well as whether a person even qualifies for this specialty court, is the District Attorney’s decision. Since it’s inception, 58 felony cases have been screened and 21 have been accepted.
For more information go to https://www.courts.state.co.us/Media/release.cfm?id=707