Felony DUI Messyness in Colorado
Starting August 5, 2015, Colorado will have a felony DUI-Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol law on the books. While many DUI / DWAI or drinking and driving victims in Adams and Jefferson County are happy, I am concerned that we’ve given in to the hysteria of the moment and created a law which can get messy. Here is why:
First Time Denver DUI / DWAI Can be a Felony
While the drafters of this law emphasize that it is reserved for repeat DUI offenders who are now on their fourth DUI, that is not what the law says. In fact, it can be applied to a first time DUI / DWAI. Here are the key terms of this law: “Driving Under the Influence is a misdemeanor, but it is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; Vehicular Homicide, as described in section 18-3-106 (1)(b), C.R.S.; Vehicular Assault, as described in section 18-3-205 (1)(b), C.R.S.; or any combination thereof.” The law also states that any offenses under the laws of another state or territory, count as if they occurred in Colorado.
A Practical Example of the Felony DUI / DWAI Messyness
Thinking just a little outside the box, if a person was convicted of a DWAI in Puerto Rico when he is sixteen, in Florida for a DWAI when he is 21, and then in Oregon for vehicular assault when he is 30, he will face a felony DUI in Arapahoe and Douglas County Colorado when prosecuted here. The law does not consider that the DWAI may be very different in these other states – let’s say a .025 alcohol threshold. Or, there is no thought to what vehicular assault really looks like in Oregon. In each of these places, the crimes may occur under less serious circumstances than Colorado’s version.
Under this scenario, the man charged with his first DUI / DWAI is now facing a felony, and could go to prison for up to six years. That sounds extreme to me. Whenever laws are created at the request of angry citizens, we end up with terms which can cause real problems for men and women in the future. In many cases, vigilante laws of this type hurt far more people than intended. Laws are written in fear of special interest groups, so lawmakers don’t have to worry about reelection time when opponents say they were soft on crime.
Sloppy Law = Sloppy Results
For over 25 years, our criminal defense law firm has been on the cutting edge of defenses for those accused of DUI or DWAI drinking and driving offenses. We don’t think this law is a good idea. There was plenty of incentive not to drink and drive with prior law. This law is subject to harsh results since it was written so broadly as to include ALL DUI, DWAI, Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault alcohol offenses from every state and territory. There is simply too much variety in the laws of these political bodies to give consistent treatment to men and women driving in Colorado. Read the top five DUI facts.
We are DUI attorneys and DWAI lawyers who care about our clients and their futures. Sending someone to prison can mean loss of a job, a house and a family. Call us at 303-731-0719 today, and speak with one of the best drinking and driving lawyers in Colorado. Remember, never talk to police about your situation. It is your constitutional right to remain silent. Together, we can protect your future.