Colorado is the 17th strictest state in cracking down on drunk driving, according to a ranking of U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) by Wallet Hub. Wallet Hub ranks Colorado as the 20th toughest state in the criminal penalties category, and fourth toughest in preventing drunk driving. The state that ranks as strictest overall for DUI — ranking at number one — is Arizona; and the most lenient state for drunk driving — ranked at number 51 — is South Dakota, Wallet Hub’s chart shows. Wallet Hub helps consumers make better financial decisions and save money.
In Colorado, the minimum jail time for a first DUI offense is five days, and for a second DUI offense is 10 days, as Wallet Hub writes. According to its chart, a DUI conviction does not become an automatic felony in Colorado. (However, as this blog reported earlier this month, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill creating a possible felony charge for any driver who gets a fourth drunk driving offense, which would be punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. That law goes into effect on August 5.)
Wallet Hub writes that in Colorado, old DUI convictions factor into penalties for new ones for a period of seven years. In addition, Colorado requires an administrative license suspension for three months, the Wallet Hub chart shows.
On average, Wallet Hub found, “Red states are stricter on DUIs, with an average ranking of 23.0, compared to 28.2 for blue states (1 = Strictest).” Twenty-four states require someone arrested for the first time with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more to have an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, Wallet Hub writes. Another 14 states require that device installed in the vehicle after a first offense only if the person’s BAC is greater than .15, Wallet Hub writes. Seven states only require ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of those found guilty of a second DUI offense, and six states do not require the device at all, Wallet Hub writes.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Colorado’s law does not require an ignition interlock device for a first conviction, but offers “strong incentives” to the driver to install one. The device is mandatory in Colorado for a person found driving with a BAC greater than 0.17, who must use the device for at least one year, NCSL writes.
Wallet Hub asked several experts what states could do to further reduce drunk driving rates. E. Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology, said no one policy would make a difference, and that a comprehensive effort is needed. There especially needs to be a culture of “Actively Caring for People,” he said. He goes into detail about this approach in an article he wrote for the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Management, titled “Seven Life Lessons from Humanistic Behaviorism: How to Bring the Best Out of Yourself and Others.”