According to authorities, hundreds of individuals in the state of Colorado now face felony DUI charges. This has occurred since a new law took effect within the state. Before that, all DUI charges were misdemeanors. As such, a drunk driving conviction — in and of itself — would not result in a state prison term.
However, since the new law began to be applied, over 90 individuals in just two Colorado counties have faced DUI charges for at least their fourth time. This has pushed them into the range of a felony. A conviction could result in a prison term of up to six years and fines totaling $500,000.
Over 26,000 arrests for DUI take place in the state. In addition, over 150 individuals lose their lives in traffic crashes related to alcohol, which is more than one-third of the traffic-related deaths in Colorado. Police said whether this new law helps to curb driving under the influence remains to be seen.
When a person is charged with DUI in Colorado, he or she may opt to go to trial to vigorously fight the criminal accusations. At trial, the prosecution must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt before any conviction is possible. However, as the case moves forward, the individual might be offered the opportunity to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors. If one is offered, this must be weighed against the possible outcome of going to trial on the merits in order to reach a decision regarding the defendant’s best course of action to achieve a preferred result.
Source: coloradoan.com, “Repeat offenders: Felony DUI charges stack up in Northern Colorado“, Jason Pohl, April 22, 2016