On Tuesday, according to the Billings Gazette, Carol O’Meara called 911, reporting that she was too drunk to get out of her car. When officers contacted her, she had the keys to the car in her pocket. She was ultimately arrested for suspicion of DUI. O’Meara’s BAC was a .311. According to a records check, O’Meara has three prior DUI convictions. This fourth DUI will be charged as a felony. She appeared in court on Wednesday for her initial appearance and as of Thursday remained in custody, not yet having posted bond.
In some states, after a person has been convicted of a certain number of DUI or DWAI charges, a subsequent DUI or DWAI can be charged as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. While Colorado is currently not one of those states, Colorado does have crimes related to a DUI that can be charged as a felony. For example, if a person drives drunk and injures or kills a person, then the prosecution would likely charge vehicular assault or vehicular homicide. If a person is driving when his/her license is revoked as a habitual traffic offender and is drunk, then the prosecution would likely charge the person with aggravated driving as a habitual traffic offender, which is a class six felony.
In addition, while Colorado has no specific law that specifies that after a certain number of DUI convictions a subsequent DUI is a felony, this does not prohibit prosecutors from finding a creative way to charge a person with a felony. For example, if a person got charged with his/her fifth DUI and the BAC well exceeded the legal limit and in previous cases, he/she had been in minor accidents, a prosecutor could theoretically charge an attempted vehicular assault. In this instance, the idea would be that the driver, knowing the potential danger of drunk driving due to the prior cases, took a substantial step towards committing vehicular assault even if no one was actually injured.