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Is prison the proper place for this woman?

The irony of the chance encounter was not lost on a Colorado TV reporter writing about the first felony DUI arrest in Mesa County. A guest speaker at a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers meeting called law enforcement to report a driver she believed was drunk. As it turned out, the other driver had also been at the MADD meeting.

The 36-year-old was pulled over by sheriff's deputies and charged with felony DUI. The charge means the Clifton woman has had at least three past alcohol-related convictions, though not necessarily all in Colorado.

The charge means that if she is convicted, she faces the possibility of up to 6 years in prison. District Attorney Pete Havtzinger sounds eager to make an example of her.

"The only tool I have for people like that is to lock them up as long as possible," Havtzinger said to KKCO TV. "If they are going to keep doing it, I have to lock them up."

Of course, he isn't the one who will be making the decision about whether the woman will face prison or not. Should she be convicted, the decision about her sentence will be up to a judge.

The new felony DUI doesn't require a judge to sentence those convicted to be incarcerated. In fact, a criminal defense attorney experienced in drunken driving cases might well argue that the woman's presence at a MADD meeting indicated that she is trying to address an alcohol addiction problem.

Is prison the proper place for someone who is trying to conquer alcohol abuse? For those facing felony charges as they work toward sobriety, the answer is clear. Here in Denver, you can have an experienced DUI attorney fighting for your freedom as you fight your addiction.

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