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Colorado lawmakers to try again to add felony DUI

It’s becoming something of an annual ritual in Colorado, like throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day or lighting the state Christmas tree. The new tradition is the introducing of a bill in the Colorado legislature to make it a felony to receive repeat DUIs.

The measure has been introduced several times, including last year, when it failed to pass, and the year before, when it also failed to become law. 

A Denver TV station says that after it crunched state statistics, it found that about 12,000 drivers get a second or subsequent Colorado DUI each year. Though the station failed to provide any specifics from the new proposal, last year’s proposal would have made repeat DUI a Class 5 felony, meaning that some offenders would be eligible to be sentenced to up to six years behind bars.

Perhaps the biggest concern for lawmakers who have in the past opposed the measure is the cost of incarceration.  

Last year, the cost was pegged at approximately $50 million per year, though a new cost analysis is being done; an analysis proponents hope will show that their proposal is affordable.

You might recall that last year, Sen. Pat Steadman of Denver said he opposed the bill: “People who have repeat DUI offenses, the majority of those people suffer from alcoholism and addiction and that is a disease that I don't think prison is necessary to treat that,” he said.

We will keep you updated on efforts to toughen Colorado law in future blog posts.

Source: Fox Denver, "Colorado lawmakers to try to make repeat DUI offenders face felony charges," David Mitchell, Jan. 2, 2015

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