Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Rest of the Story About the Proposed Felony DUI Law

We've been hearing a WHOLE lot of misinformation coming from the media and proponents of the felony DUI bill before the Colorado General are the arguments, and why they aren't telling you the whole story...

1. "We need to send repeat offenders to jail!"  Newsflash...we already DO!  Minimum MANDATORY ten days for a second offense and minimum MANDATORY sixty days for a third/subsequent offense.  Most judges impose a minimum of six months on a third offense, and often max offenders out at a year.

2.  "Even if it's your tenth DUI, the most jail you can serve is one year!"  That is correct, but what they fail to mention is that repeat offenders are GUARANTEED to go to jail under current law; the new law would not guarantee felony DUI offenders would do any time at all.  In fact, the original sponsor of the initial bills offered in earlier sessions admitted that felony DUI offenders were likely to get probation rather than jail/prison.

3.  "There needs to be a deterrent so DUI offenders won't repeat!"  Available statistics from states that have passed similar felony DUI laws show that these laws have had NO deterrent effect on reducing DUI recidivism.

4. "Drunk drivers who injure/kill people should face felony charges!"  Another newsflash...CO law already makes it a felony to cause death or serious bodily injury while driving under the influence--the offenses are vehicular assault and vehicular homicide, respectively.

5.  "The projected costs of this law have been over-estimated!"  This law is projected to add nearly $20 million in new Department of Corrections costs.  The original bill's sponsor says that estimate is too high because most felony offenders won't be sent to prison but rather placed on probation.  We thought the reason for this law was to mete out greater punishment for repeat DUI offenders?  The proponents seem to be contradicting themselves.

Bottom line:  This is a bill being pushed by politicians who want to appear tough on crime.  The fact is, CO is tough on DUI offenders, mandating jail for repeat offenders, not to mention the negative consequences regarding driver's licenses.  Even the bill's proponents admit that creating a felony DUI charge will result in LESS incarceration for multiple offenders, not more.

In any case, DUI is a complicated legal charge and the assistance of an experienced attorney is no longer just preferred, it is essential!