For more information on the most recent Felony DUI bill which was passed and signed by the governor on June 6th, 2017, and is in effect August 9th, 2017, please visit this page.
Colorado enacted a felony DUI law in 2015, which makes lifetime drunk driving convictions in excess of three a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. The law takes into consideration information from other states obtained by law enforcement officials related to drunk driving charges, not just those issued in Colorado. Critics of the bill believed that it would do little to make Colorado roads safer, but statistics have shown that felony DUI charges are on the rise in the northern part of the state. Whether or not the new law and related increase in felony convictions will deter other repeated drunk driving offenders from getting behind the wheel while under the influence or not remains to be seen, but a recent offender was able to use a plea deal to avoid prison time for his fifth lifetime DUI.
According to Denver’s Fox-31, a 45-year old man that has a DUI history reaching back to 1997 – including seven DUI arrests and five DUI convictions – has been sentenced to one year of work release and three years of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to the fifth lifetime DUI charge. The most recent arrest occurred in Arvada in November when the defendant allegedly ran a steady red light and almost collided with an Arvada police officer. At the time, the defendant had been allegedly operating the vehicle with a revoked license and was listed as a habitual DUI offender. The defendant refused blood and breath testing, but allegedly failed roadside sobriety testing. Additionally, the police report noted that the defendant gave police a false address. Prosecutors justified their decision to seek probation in this case because no actual accident occurred and the defendant had no prior felony convictions. In such cases, the new Colorado law allows courts to use discretion in sentencing defendants to anything between probation and six years in prison. The article notes that had the defendant been charged with a fifth misdemeanor instead of a first-time felony offense, he would have faced an automatic 60 days to one year in county jail.
State officials have commented on such cases by indicating that they had chosen to allow courts to consider mitigating circumstances in such cases that may warrant probation or other sentencing in lieu of a prison sentence. Mitigating circumstances generally refer to characteristics surrounding a particular case that could warrant a lesser or harsher penalty than that prescribed by law. In this particular case, though the judge spared the defendant jail time, a harsher probationary sentence was handed down than the one requested by prosecutors. In the First Judicial District, which includes Arvada, 25 people have been sentenced for felony DUI convictions since the new law took effect, with 14 offenders receiving probation that has sometimes been combined with work release. Work release programs allow a convicted person to work during the day with the requirement of checking into a secure residential facility every night.
Colorado law enforcement officials take driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs very seriously, whether it is your first conviction or you have been labeled as a repeat offender and risk felony charges. The outcome of sentencing for these convictions can be unpredictable, but it is important to secure legal representation from an attorney with experience in defending against DUI charges if you are facing a potential conviction. An attorney with experience in DUI cases will help you understand the charges you are facing as well as the potential consequences, and will work with you on an appropriate defense. Even if you have made the mistake of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you still have rights that must be protected. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation about your DUI charges.
IMPACT OF SUPREME COURT RULING ON COLORADO DUIS