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Why do felony DUI penalties vary so much?

When laws change, it can be for the better or worse. In the case of those facing a felony conviction in Colorado for driving under the influence, it can actually work to your benefit. In fact, because the guidelines are so loose, it's possible to receive no incarceration at all, even on a fourth offense.

Judges in Colorado have been handing out a number of difference sentences to those convicted of driving under the influence thanks to a new felony DUI law. Around one in 12 people receives no time in jail or prison, while others are left with lengthy prison sentences. Why is this happening?

With old DUI laws, a third-offense conviction could lead to at least 60 days in jail. Now, that law still applies, but fourth-offense offenders aren't held to the same standard. In fact, judges could decide not to penalize drivers at all, thanks to the discretion they're given on the cases.

The new felony law was in part created to bring Colorado up to snuff with other states that already had felony DUI laws. A fourth offense could lead to up to six years in prison, even in Colorado, with the original bill. Those who thought this would cost too much for the state argued the terms, and supporters of the felony bill backed down. The compromise? A felony bill with no minimum sentence.

Your attorney can help you use this to your advantage. With the right arguments and defense, you may be able to get a low sentence or one without jail or prison time at all.

Source: The Denver Post, "Habitual drunken drivers’ sentences vary wildly under Colorado’s new felony DUI law," Christopher N. Osher, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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