Colorado has taken a giant step forward in imposing jail sentences for repeat drunk drivers.
“The law Colorado just brought into being mandates jail sentences for repeat drunk drivers – a minimum 10 day stint for a second offense and 60 days for third infractions and further offenses. The bill allows for work release programs but won’t permit in-home detention for a second offense within 5 years of the first,” explained Miller Leonard, a Denver federal criminal defense lawyer and Denver state criminal defense attorney.
The main reason Colorado took this step forward to hand out harsher penalties to drunk drivers is because they were rotating them in and out of the system like a revolving door. This did absolutely nothing to protect the public from drunk drivers who continually climbed behind the wheel and drove recklessly time and time again. Whether they were caught or not, convicted or not, they were always put right back out on the streets.
Lawmakers finally took a stand to deal with the issue when it came to light in the media that some repeat offenders – on their 4th, 5th and 7th offenses – were not sentenced to jail time. It wasn’t just that issue that prompted a closer scrutiny of the penalties handed out for drunk driving. It was the fact that sentences were wildly disparate in all the courts, and that drivers who killed someone while DUI didn’t do jail time. “Why didn’t they do jail time? They didn’t tend to do time in jail because Colorado didn’t have a felony law for repeat drunk drivers,” said Leonard.
The new law mandates that repeat offenders will be on probation for two years and take alcohol education and treatment programs. This is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of attempting to get control over the number of drunk drivers on the roads.
Along with the DUI bill, the state also signed in two other pieces of legislation: the first will cut down on the number of prisoners in jail and divert them to treatment and supervision options. Think, someone caught with illegal drugs but who does not sell them. Those tagged with less than 2 ounces of MJ face what is called a petty offense, whereas prior to this change, more than an ounce was a first degree misdemeanor.
This law will also cut down on prison time for possession of small amounts of illicit prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine and meth – a step toward acknowledging drug addiction is a disease, not a severe crime.
To learn more, visit http://www.fedcrimdef.com or call 303.623.2721.