Colorado’s new felony DUI law went into effect last month, and Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May said he anticipates well over 100 such convictions in the first year, as Andy Koen writes for KOAA5. May said he charged at least 10 people from the Pikes Peak Region of Colorado Springs since the law went into effect, Koen reports.
As this blog wrote, under the new law (House Bill 15-1043), a person convicted of a fourth drunk driving offense can be charged with a felony and fined up to $500,000. Before this law went into effect, anyone convicted of a DUI in Colorado was only charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced up to one year in jail.
May said that prior to this bill, “There was nothing that allowed us to see how many multiple DUI people you had,” as Koen writes. The law makes it possible to track how many people are in the “four or more category” of DUIs, May said.
Koen quotes May:
‘We needed this felony to drive home to some people that this is a public safety issue, you’re risking families, you’re risking kids every time you get on out there and drive drunk,’ May said.
‘We need you to stop, and if that means putting some people in prison to bring that point home, then that’s what we’re gonna do.’
Chhun Sun writes for The Gazette that before the new law, a suspected drunk driver could be put in a cab and sent home or taken to a hospital for treatment, according to Officer Michelle Nethercot, who recently wrote the arrest affidavit for a 53-year-old man allegedly involved in a crash on the south side of Colorado Springs. Police suspected the man, William Randall Nance, of driving under the influence and then found that he had eight previous DUI-related convictions, Sun writes.
Try, Try Again
The bill, which Governor Hickenlooper signed in June, had failed to get through the legislature repeatedly in the recent years, Sun notes. It was after the Governor said it was a priority in his State of the State address in January, that the bill finally passed, several months later, Sun writes.
The previous law was not a deterrent for repeat offenders, the district attorney May said, as Sun writes. “We’re extremely thankful (to) the legislators now that we have a felony DUI when you get to four,” May said.
Nethercot said that not all drivers know about the new law, Sun writes. However Sun adds that drivers are starting to be aware of the new law.
Sun reports that after Nance was arrested towards the end of Labor Day weekend, police sent out a press release saying; “This is not the first person arrested since felony DUI laws (were enacted), however the number of arrests for DUI seemed remarkable.” Following Nance’s recent appearance in court, where he was ordered to stop drinking alcohol and to sign up for random testing, a reporter from KKTV approached him, Sun writes. The reporter asked Nance what would make him stop drinking and driving, “Or have you stopped already?” Sun writes.
Nance responded that he had already stopped and that he is seeking treatment and help. Nance is next scheduled to appear in court in the criminal case on September 30, Sun writes.