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Watered-down felony DUI bill moves forward

It's officially known as HB-1043. Unofficially, it's known as the DUI felony bill that would add Colorado to the list of states where multiple drunk driving convictions can result in a felony being charged against the alleged offender. If convicted of the felony, the offender would face a mandatory prison sentence.

A Denver representative recently called politicians in the legislature who have repeatedly shot down similar bills "repeat offenders." Previous attempts to create a felony DUI category have failed because of the multi-milliondollar price tags attached to the bills. Plus, a number of experts and legislators have in the past argued that multiple DUI offenders need treatment, not incarceration to deal with their substance abuse problems.

The most recent bill introduced in the House has undergone a change that could reduce the cost of putting offenders behind bars. The bill has been amended to require a felony charge after a fourth DUI conviction rather than a third within seven years.

Though the change is estimated to cut projected costs by at least half, the tab for the felony law will still amount to $8 million or more by the third years of its implementation. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear the pros and cons of the proposal in coming days, according to a newspaper report.

If it passes and is signed by the governor, Colorado's already tough laws will become even more stringent, making it crucial for those potentially facing felony accusations to seek counsel from Denver attorneys experienced in DUI defense.

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