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Felony DUI / DWAI at the Colorado Legislature

Colorado's law makers are struggling through the process of amending our state's DUI / DWAI laws to make Driving Under the Influence a class four felony, if a person has three prior misdemeanor DUI's or DWAI's. Whether in Denver or Adams County, men and women who drink are not going to be deterred by whether this criminal offense is a felony or misdemeanor. I think the discussion is more intended for someone's reelection vs. the safety of Colorado drivers.

Colorado's Current DUI / DWAI Law Can be Made Tougher

Currently, men and women can go to jail for up to a year for Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, C.R.S. 42-4-1301. That is a long time. If lawmakers don't think that is enough time off the streets, just increase the penalty of our DUI and DWAI crimes. We have other misdemeanors in our state where the maximum punishment is two years in the Arapahoe County Jail or the Douglas County Jail. That two years would be more than sufficient for a deterrent effect, if deterrence comes from longer sentences. My experience is that people drink and drive because they make bad decisions after drinking. How will a longer sentence make them smarter when drunk? It would be far more effective to simply require them to forfeit their car to the state on their third DUI conviction.

Colorado Has Another Option with Felony Vehicular Assault

Another reason the felony DUI law is unnecessary is that Colorado has the crime of Vehicular Assault, C.R.S. 18-3-205, which is already charged as a class four felony. This crime is deadly serious, with a punishment in the Colorado Department of Corrections for 2-6 years and five years of parole. The law provides that if a person injures another seriously, and alcohol or drugs (including marijuana) are involved, they can be charged with a this serious felony and go straight to prison.

Politicians Want to Pass This Law to Help Get Themselves Reelected

I think laws should be amended and made tougher as the need arises, not to make politicians look like they are kept busy. Let's face it, as is the case with most every new law, existing laws are working fine. State house members and senators strive to look tough on crime so they can get reelected. They must work to pass something, or they can be accused at election time of not "working" for their constituents. Further complicating our criminal justice system is not my idea of work.

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