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Colorado's already harsh felony DUI law could become even tougher

Colorado authorities have never been compromising or lenient to any extent when it comes to prosecuting drinking-related offenses and seeking harsh outcomes for convicted offenders.

The state's felony DUI statute is a case in point. That enactment, which became law in 2015, makes a fourth and any subsequent DUI offense a felony, which materially ratchets up the potential for a truly dire sentencing outcome in a given case.

Indeed, and as we noted in our April 5 blog post, "the exactions can be draconian ... [including] incarceration in a state prison for a period of up to six years and a stunningly high fine of several hundred thousand dollars."

As was made eminently clear recently, a number of Colorado legislators think that, notwithstanding the obvious severity of the law, it needs to be tweaked in a manner that will mandate even harsher penalties.

The Denver Post reports the clear momentum behind a new legislative bill (HB 17-1288) that seeks to reduce judicial discretion in felony DUI sentencing cases. Many lawmakers have criticized what they regard as a loophole in the 2015 law that has led to sentencing inconsistency, with some felony convictions bringing tough prison terms and others, conversely, resulting in no jail time at all for defendants.

If the house bill becomes law, notes the Post, it will require "some form of incarceration at a minimum, either in a jail setting or in prison."

Colorado's DUI-related laws -- already with teeth -- display a progressively sharper bite as time goes by.

That reality obviously makes it an imperative for motorists facing the plenary powers and resources of state law enforcers and prosecutors to secure timely assistance from a proven DUI defense attorney when they are charged with a drinking-related offense.

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