The drumbeat for a felony DUI law in Colorado is becoming ever stronger. Last week we reported on a proposal (House Bill 1214) making its way through the legislature that would require that a third DUI in the past seven years, or a fourth offense in a lifetime, be charged as a Class 5 felony. The bill is ostensibly born out of growing public sentiment that drunk driving has become so pervasive (due to the absence of a felony DUI law) that motorists’ safety has been compromised.
Colorado is one of five states that does not have a felony DUI law.
The bill’s proponents are focusing on habitual drunk drivers, and believe that they should be given the option to seek treatment in lieu of jail time. They believe that drivers with substance abuse challenges don’t necessarily consider the criminal consequences of getting caught for DUI, but they are more likely to take steps to address their conditions as opposed to spending time behind bars.
Since our last post, HB 1214 passed through the House Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote. The Committee heard testimony regarding how offenders would be required to complete a substance abuse safe driving program, receive alcohol monitoring and install ignition interlock systems in their vehicles for at least two years. Nevertheless, Committee members were concerned about the potential impact on state resources. The state would ostensibly have to add staff to DUI courts, assign more people to monitor offenders during probationary periods and plan for jailing offenders.
The bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for discussions on how resources will be allocated.
Source: OurColoradoNews.com, Felony DUI law gains momentum, February 27, 2013