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Colorado felony DUI debate continues

An hour north of Denver, an editorial in a Colorado newspaper is calling for state legislators to enact a felony drunk driving bill. As regular readers of our blog know, the felony bill has been repeatedly proposed in recent years, each time falling a bit short of becoming law.

The Loveland Reporter-Herald argues that it's time for the bill to pass and for Colorado to join the 46 other states with similar laws. The newspaper argues that drivers are apparently not afraid of current laws, and so they continue driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs or both.

You might remember the Aurora Sentinel's January editorial on felony DUI. It argued from the other point of view, pointing out that people in those 46 states with felony drunk driving laws also continue to drive while intoxicated. Those felony laws are also unable to completely eradicate drunk driving -- or even to show marked improvement from our DUI rates.

So what would we gain by passing the bill here -- a proposal even proponents concede will cost taxpayers millions of dollars -- if we stand to gain little, if anything? "...the rate of DUI charges across the country has fallen in states that have created such felony laws at the same rate as states, such as Colorado, that do not impose such felony convictions," the Sentinel stated.

Coloradoans charged with DUI today already face the possibility of jail time, loss of their driver's licenses, fines, mandated installation of ignition interlock devices, and so on. So the question before lawmakers and the public is whether or not upping the penalties (and incarceration costs) would be worth our while?

It should be noted that the Reporter-Herald says the felony bill is currently stalled in the legislature, much like past versions of it.

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