In 2015, Colorado lawmakers passed the first felony DUI bill. They teamed with families of drunk driving victims and those who survived collisions and lived with the aftermath on best addressing repeat offenders.
All drunk driving charges, regardless of the number of repeat offenses, were considered misdemeanors during that time. Upon enactment of the new law, a fourth DUI and DWAI (driving while ability impaired) is now a Class 4 felony.
Severe consequences for felony DUI and DWAI
Those convicted face the possibility of prison sentences of two to six years and significant fines up to $500,000. However, officials admit that incarceration is a deterrent, if not the last resort, when specialty courts and treatment options fail to stop the behavior.
Six years later, Colorado’s population has seen its population grow over the past six years. Drunk driving and the accidents that result have also increased in frequency. This year alone has already resulted in more than 150 fatalities due to drivers operating their vehicles under the influence.
Arrests in Larimer County alone have resulted in more than 130 felony charges. Breaking down that number reveals 95 felony DUIs and 37 felony DWAIs over six years. The statistics are not about first-time arrests. Out of the 132 cases, suspects collectively have 400 DUI and DWAI convictions among all suspects. Overall, the county saw arrests exceed 7,000 from 2016 to 2020.
Statewide, felony DUIs and DWAIs represented around seven percent of all cases from 2018 to 2020.
Drunk driving arrests do not mean that a felony or misdemeanor conviction is automatic. Securing the services of a skilled attorney can provide much-needed options to minimize the consequences.