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Colorado Felony DUI Bill Heads to Governor for Signing

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Cover of House Bill 1043, courtesy of Colorado General Assembly

Colorado will now join the 46 other states that have a felony DUI,” writes CBS Denver in its article headlined “Felony DUI Bill Makes It To The Governor’s Desk.” The Colorado Senate passed the law, House Bill 1043, 34-1 on Wednesday, the last day of the legislative session, writes Bente Kirkland for KVNF. The first such bill was introduced in the Colorado house almost 10 years ago, followed by three different bills during the last three years, CBS writes.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he will sign it, CBS writes. As this blog wrote recently, Hickenlooper said it was a priority to get the bill passed this year.

Under the new law, a Class 4 felony would apply to drivers after they had been convicted three or more times of DUI, Kirkland writes. She adds that Colorado had 24,124 DUI cases in 2014, according to a nonpartisan legislative analysis of the bill. Capitol analysts estimate that about 1,800 people get charged annually in Colorado for their fourth or higher number DUI, CBS writes.

An offender is required under the current law to give up his or her driver’s license after receiving a DUI conviction, writes Vic Vela for the Colorado Statesman. The new law will require a second-time DUI offender to use an ignition interlock device for at least two years, Vela writes. Such a device will not allow the ignition to start if the person behind the wheel is not sober.

The new law would require those with a third conviction to be engaged in “significant community corrections involvement,” Vela writes. And “On a fourth conviction, a judge could sentence an offender to up to six years behind bars,” Vela writes.

The senate sponsors of the bill were John Cooke, R-Greeley, a member of the Judiciary committee, and Mike Johnson, D-Denver, as this blog wrote. The only no vote for the bill in the Senate was from Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs,  and Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, was the only no vote previously in the House, where it passed with a 64-1 vote, Vela writes.

Vela writes that before the vote, lawmakers shared stories about how drunk driving can impact families:

Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, talked about an accident that occurred near his Weld County home, where a car-full of family members were struck by a drunken-driver.

Cooke said the driver was a seven-time DUI offender. A father and his two young children died in the crash.

‘I wish that this bill would have been passed a couple of years ago,’ Cooke said. ‘Maybe this family would have been alive today.’


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