In August, a new law went into effect that will make the penalties for repeated drunk driving convictions in Colorado much tougher.
The new felony DUI law will charge those individuals who have three or more previous DUIs (Driving Under the Influence), DWAIs (Driving While Ability Impaired), vehicular homicides, or vehicular assaults with a new class 4 felony DUI. Before the passage of this legislation, a Coloradan could only be convicted of misdemeanor DUI, regardless of how many priors they had.
As of August 2015, the fourth such conviction is a felony. It doesn’t matter how old the prior convictions are, and they can be from any state, including Colorado.
By making a fourth DUI a felony, the legislature is significantly changing the penalties for DUI to standard F4 penalties. This means 2-6 years in prison if a defendant is sentenced to prison. That’s a two-year minimum for a defendant who is sentenced to 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.
One important thing to remember regarding the new felony DUI, is that felonies are subject to Habitual Counts or Repeat Offender Charges. These affect the penalty range based on other felony convictions- including non-DUI related convictions.
One point that sets Colorado apart from so many other states with a felony DUI law is the inclusion of DWAI as a prerequisite offense for felony DUI. DWAI is a lesser charge than DUI, and only requires a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .05 to .08, or the most negligible degree of impairment.
The biggest implication of that being, a case reduction from DUI to DWAI would not be beneficial in sparing a person from receiving a felony DUI if they accumulate additional offenses.
Additionally, the new felony law is not the same thing as a Persistent Drunk Driving (PDD) designation. PDD is applicable to those individuals who have either a BAC in excess of .15, or refuse to submit to sobriety tests. PDD also applies if you have been convicted of, or had your license revoked for two or more alcohol-related driving violations. PDD then increases particular penalties you would receive as a result of the most recent arrest.
Contact Our Boulder DUI Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Boulder or anywhere in the State of Colorado, it is important to understand the severity of these charges and how they can affect your future. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.