The website Truthfinder has created an interactive map of the U.S. rating the states according to how bad their drivers are, as Patrick George writes for Jalopnik. The map is based on data complied from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Justice Department, George writes. The data catalogues serious driving offenses, not merely people who fail to signal when changing lanes, George notes.
Based on the map, the state with the fewest bad drivers is Massachusetts (number 50 on the list), followed by New York (number 49), and New Jersey (number 48). The largest number of bad drivers are in North Dakota (number 1 on the list), Wyoming (number 2), and Montana (number 3), according to the map. Colorado ranks 25, overall, right in the middle. However, of the three categories that comprise a state’s overall ranking, Colorado ranks 12 out of 50 for drunk driving arrests, 28 for speeding-related deaths, and 34 for “driving-related deaths.”
In a related article, the Associated Press writes in The Denver Post that Colorado is one of only five states in which drunk drivers face only misdemeanor charges, even after repeated convictions. Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Tuesday, by a vote of 5-0, that would crack down on repeat DUI offenders, as KKTV.com reports, and would make a driver’s fourth DUI a felony, punishable by as many as six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.00, KKTV writes. “A third DUI in seven years could also be a felony if it includes aggravating factors, such as having children in the car or causing major injuries,” AP writes. In January, Governor Hickenlooper said it would be a priority to get the bill passed this year, KKTV writes.
The Senate sponsors of Colorado House Bill 1043 are John Cooke, R-Greeley, a member of the Judiciary committee; and Mike Johnson, D-Denver, writes Lars Gesing for The Colorado Statesman. Opponents of the bill, including the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, argued that the bill would not solve the problem of alcoholism, the root of repeated DUIs, Gesing writes. Gesing quotes Sen. Johnson as saying at the hearing: “when you have the case of someone who is a serial drunk driver with 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 DUIs, who is putting people’s lives at risk, there is the opportunity for this person to serve time in prison” — before a deadly car accident happens. The bill will also have to be approved by the Senate Finance Committee and then the Appropriations committee, Gesing writes.
A similar bill failed last year because of concerns over costs, Gesing writes. Costs have also come up with the current bill, he adds: “The original bill was expected to cost $17.5 million by fiscal year 2018. As amended, the cost would now be $8 million by 2018.”