It’s a rare moment in modern politics in which both sides of the political aisle are mostly in agreement. Bipartisan harmony on a bill that would make repeat convictions for DUI a felony in Colorado sent the measure sailing through the House Appropriations Committee yesterday with unanimous approval.
If the bill passes a final vote in the House, which observers agree appears likely, it will head to the state Senate, Denver media reports.
Rep. Mark Waller, the bill’s sponsor, hopes to add Colorado to the list of 45 states in which repeat DUIs can be charged as felonies.
As things stand currently, Waller said, a DUI conviction is a misdemeanor whether it’s a person’s first, fifth, tenth or twentieth. “It’s a misdemeanor that’s punishable by no more than one year in the county jail,” he said.
House Bill 1036 would change that, enabling prosecutors to charge with felonies people who get three DUI convictions within a seven-year span, or four DUIs in the course of their lifetime.
A number of Denver media outlets report that the bill, as currently configured, would mean possible punishment of two to six years in state prison on a felony DUI conviction.
Waller said his goal isn’t to put first-time offenders in prison, but rather to provide incentive to repeat offenders to get alcohol treatment.
He noted that if his bill passes the House and Senate and is signed into law by the governor, it would provide a way for habitual offenders to “have the felony stripped from their record,” go on probation and receive treatment.
We’ll be watching this bill closely and will be sure to keep you current on any changes to Colorado DUI law.
Source: KDVR, “House approves funding for, gives initial OK to felony DUI bill,” April 10, 2014