What does the new Colorado Felony Drunk Driving Bill mean for me? Triple L Law answers…
The DUI Felony bill, Colorado House Bill 1043 passed the State Senate on May 6, 2015 and headed for the desk of Governor John Hickenlooper. If he does has he previously indicated, Gov. Hickenlooper will sign the bill and Felony DUI will become a reality. Colorado will then join the vast majority of other states in having a higher penalty for repeated drunk drivers. So, what does this really mean?
The new Felony DUI will charge people who have three or more prior DUIs, DWAIs, vehicular homicides, or vehicular assaults with a new class 4 Felony DUI. Prior to its passage, a Coloradan could only be convicted of misdemeanor DUI, no matter how many priors they possessed. Now, the fourth DUI is a felony. These prior DUIs can be from Colorado or from any other state and it DOES NOT MATTER HOW OLD THESE CONVICTIONS ARE. If you picked up 3 DUIs when you were 20 years old and didn’t get another one until 40 years later, you would still be facing a felony now. Triple L Law is here to help! It is possible to challenge older DUI convictions and out-of-state DUI convictions to make sure the crimes match current Colorado law and that the previous convictions were properly documented.
By making a fourth DUI a felony, the legislature is drastically changing the penalties for DUI to standard F4 penalties. This means 2-6 years in prison if a Defendant is sentenced to prison. That 2 years is a minimum if a Defendant receives prison time as a result of a conviction. However, the bill does not require prison time and in fact requires that a court make a specific determination as to whether incarceration is the most suitable option. You need an aggressive, experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney at Triple L Law to fight to make sure you don’t go to prison on this new offense!
One thing to keep in mind with a new felony DUI. Felonies are subject to Habitual Counts or Repeat Offender Charges. These change the penalty range based upon other felony (including non-DUI related) convictions and can greatly increase the penalties of a felony DUI. While we don’t know how often prosecutors will use these tools, they are frequently used in other jurisdictions. When I was a prosecutor in Texas, I frequently saw the incarceration range change from 2-10 years for a felony DWI Third all the way to 25 years to 99 years prison based on Habitual Counts. You need an experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney at Triple L Law who knows what they are doing!
One thing that makes Colorado different than so many other states with a felony DUI law is the inclusion of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) as a prerequisite offense for felony DUI. DWAI is the lesser DUI in that it only requires a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .05 to .08 or the slightest degree of impairment. This means that getting a case reduced from DUI to DWAI for would not be helpful in saving a person from getting a felony DUI should they pick up more offenses. It is now more important than ever to have a lawyer ready, willing, and able to go to trial on your DUIs to fight for your rights.
This new felony law is NOT the same thing as a Persistent Drunk Driving designation or PDD. PDD applies to those who either have a BAC over .15 or refuse to take the tests. PDD also applies if you have been convicted of or had your driver’s license revoked for two or more alcohol related driving violations. PDD then increases certain penalties you would receive as a result of the latest arrest.
If you are facing a felony DUI arrest, contact Triple L Law immediately!! Every moment you wait is a moment wasted in your extremely important defense!