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Fatal Colorado crash cited by advocates of felony DUI proposal

Politics never sleeps. In the wake of a recent fatal crash in which two young boys and their father were killed, politicians in favor of a felony DUI proposal took to Denver airwaves to restate their case.

TV stations said a man who had been arrested 7 times for DUI and DWAI was suspected of causing the accident. He also died in the crash that took the lives of a 37-year-old man and his sons, ages 6 and 1.

Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver says the proposal he’s pushing would make a third DUI in any seven-year period a felony. It would also contain a provision that would make a fourth DUI, no matter when it happens, a felony.

Johnston said the proposal would also elevate certain circumstances to felony-level: “If there are kids in the car, if (you) hurt someone or some property, if you flee from the scene, or if you’re more than twice the legal alcohol limit.”

The Colorado legal standard for drunken driving is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. People can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI) with a lower BAC, however.   

A spokesperson for the Criminal Defense Bar said she understood why people want to punish repeat DUI offenders, but said that prison sentences aren’t the way for Colorado to go. She said state residents would be better served by compelling first- and second-offense drunk drivers to enter “more effective DUI classes and treatment.”

None of the articles we read on the Weld County crash included statements from officials on the suspect’s BAC. One article did point out that the accident was triggered when a tire blew out on his vehicle, however.

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