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Governor signs Colorado felony DUI bill

Gov. John Hickenlooper will be hopping on I-70 today, heading toward Wheat Ridge to sign a bill long discussed and debated in Colorado. Today is finally the day on which the governor will sign the felony DUI bill, making a fourth DUI offense a felony.

If convicted of the felony, an offender could spend up to six years in prison and be fined up to $500,000. The proposal had failed repeatedly in recent years due to concerns about incarceration costs, but its proponents finally prevailed this year with little opposition.

The bill-signing ceremony is to be held at Lifeloc Technologies, a Wheat Ridge maker of breath alcohol testers.

The company has been supplying law enforcement agencies, businesses and individuals with alcohol testing devices for 32 years, it says on its website. It also offers on the site what it refers to as the "Ultimate BAC Calculator." (BAC stands for blood alcohol content.)

You've probably seen similar calculators on other sites. You enter how many drinks you've consumed, how much you weigh and your gender and the calculator tells you whether you have likely hit the legal threshold of 0.08 percent BAC. You might even have such a calculator on your phone.

Lifeloc's calculator earns the "ultimate" in its name for being able to calculate the effects of more than one type of drink. Let's say you drink a beer, a glass of wine and three shots of tequila over six hours. It will give you an approximation of how prepared you might be to drive, though the company cautions that the calculator is not to be taken as legal advice.

Let's say you had three beers (Amstel -- the company's calculator breaks down beers by brands), a shot of tequila (sorry, no Patron listed) and a glass of red wine in six hours. If you're male, you weigh 180 pounds and you've been having drinks over a period of six hours, you have "no noticeable effects at this point," according to the calculator.

When we lower the drinking time down to two hours, everything changes, however. The calculator says you now meet the DUI threshold, your vision and reaction times are impaired, your self-control and reasoning powers have diminished and "it is illegal to drive at this point."

It would be time to call a cab or get a ride home from a sober driver. Don't attempt to drive at this point or you might well need the services of a Denver DUI defense attorney.

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