The Colorado legislature passed a felony DUI bill today. The bill, which exposes habitual drunk drivers to a class four felony, is headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. Felony DUI bills have been presented before, but were not passed. Colorado was one of only a handful of states without a felony DUI law.
A fourth DUI in a lifetime or a third in a seven year period of time is a class four felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison. Prison is not, however, mandatory. In order for a judge to sentence a person to prison, the judge must find that prison is the most appropriate sentence given the individual facts and circumstances of each case, including the defendant’s willingness to participate in treatment. The new law also allows for a community corrections residential treatment component. The bill also allows for interlock requirements, which used to only be issued by DMV, but are now written into the DUI law.
While the bill increases the possible penalties for habitual DUI offenders, it decreases the possible penalties for people who are charged with aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (also called aggravated driving as a habitual traffic offender). Aggravated HTO is different from a simple HTO charge in that, to be aggravated, the driver must not only be deemed a habitual traffic offender, but while driving with that status, the driver must also commit a significant traffic offense, such as DUI or hit and run. “Agg HTO” was a class six felony, but will now be a class one misdemeanor. However, the judge must semtence a minimum mandatory 60 days of jail. Under the old law, there was no mandatory jail or prison.
It is always important to have an attorney who can answer your questions and review your case. The felony DUI bill makes it that much more important to consult with a lawyer. Not only is the possible sentence much more severe, but the possibility of a felony conviction is problematic for many people.