Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bill Would Require Advisement Prior to Consensual Searches and Consent in Writing

HB10-1201, sponsored by State Rep. Karen Middleton (D-42) and State Sen. Pat Steadman (D-31), would require law enforcement officers who conduct consensual searches of persons, their automobiles or premises, to obtain said consent in writing after advising the person that they have the right to refuse such a search. Currently, the law makes no such requirement for officers who conduct a consensual search of a person or his/her property. The written permission after advisement requirement would not apply to searches where the officer is otherwise permitted by law to conduct a search, such as pursuant to a search warrant or incident to lawful arrest.

Monday, January 11, 2010

State legislators seek to increase DUI penaties

The Denver Post reports that State Representative Claire Levy (D-Boulder) will introduce legislation this session that will impose greater minimum-mandatory jail sentences for repeat DUI/DWAI offenders. Per the news report, Levy's bill would increase the minimum-mandatory jail sentence for all second alcohol offenses to ten days and impose a minimum-mandatory 60-day sentence for a third offense. Courts would still have discretion to permit work-release, and home detention would be permissible on second offenses where the previous offense was more than three years in the past. Levy's bill is less-stringent than that considered by Gov. Ritter's Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which would have mandated 30 days in jail for a second offense. It was also reported that Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is introducing legislation that would make a third drunk-driving offense a felony, subjecting the offender to a potential prison sentence rather than county jail.

An overriding concern expressed by county commissioners and sheriffs is that expanded mandatory sentences will greatly increase costs at a time when budgets are strained to their limits. The Post report estimated that expanding mandatory sentences to the levels recommended by the Commission would increase incarceration costs by $20 million statewide, at a time where many counties are scrambling for ways to reduce jail costs, which are estimated at $65-70 per day per inmate. The cost for creating felony DUI convictions, including the requirement for new prisons, was estimated at $107 million in 2008.

The details of these proposed bills will be made public once the General Assembly begins its 2010 session later this week.