A new bill making its way through the Colorado legislature is calling for new Felony DUI laws and stiffer penalties for convicted drivers. Introduced by Representative Lori Saine, House Bill 1043 (HB1043) is expected to gain support from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate at the Colorado General Assembly, as well as from residents throughout the state.
Here are some key points about HB 1043:
- Third DUI - Under the bill, drivers convicted of a third driving under the influence offense within seven years would face felony charges. By escalating the offense to a felony, convicted drivers would face much harsher penalties, including mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment.
- Fourth DUI - HB 1043 would also impose felony charges for a fourth DUI conviction within any amount of time. This means a driver who was convicted of DUI at any time in the past could still face felony charges when arrested for their fourth offense.
- Ignition Interlock Device - The bill also extends the amount of time a driver convicted of DUI will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. IIDs prevent motorists from starting their vehicles if any amount of alcohol is detected on their breath.
Similar bills to create new felony DUI laws have been proposed in Colorado but have failed to pass - including a different version of HB 1043 that failed last year. In other states across the nation, felony DUI laws are also becoming stricter. According to data from MADD, a majority of states with felony DUI laws impose felony charges for a third offense. Four states, including New York, enforce felony DUI charges for a second offense.
Support for HB 1043 has been split, with many believing that new felony DUI standards will help ease overburdened county jails and resources by shifting responsibility to the state. At the same time, some have concerns regarding costs associated with creating the felony charges.
While it remains to be seen whether HB 1043 will become law in Colorado, the national trend is that states are making DUI enforcement a top priority. This means that lawmakers, law enforcement, and prosecutors are focused on increasing arrests, convictions, and penalties.
If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for DUI in Colorado, Feldmann Nagel Margulis is prepared to help you learn more about your rights and how our award-winning trial lawyers can fight on your behalf. Our DUI lawyers serve all counties across Colorado from offices in Denver, Steamboat Springs, Vail/Edwards, and Boulder.