A long-denied bill in Colorado has one less hurdle to overcome before finally getting passed. The bill, which will make the consequences for repeated DUI offenses much more serious, was passed in a State House vote last month and is now headed to the Senate floor.
“I was hit by a six-time drunk driver. I became his seventh,” said one victim of a DUI accident and supporter of the bill.
In Colorado, a first-time DUI offense can result in a year-long license suspension, a jail term from five days to one year, and 48-96 mandatory public service hours. However, charges for DUI in Colorado — regardless of the number of offenses — are always misdemeanors. Colorado is one of five states in the U.S. to not have passed legislation like this yet, according to the Denver Post.
The Post also reports that the bill would make a fourth DUI offense a felony and would also carry a $500,000 fine. Additionally, the bill would make a third DUI offense a felony if other aggravating factors are present, like if there are children in the car or if major injuries result from the accident.
Critics of the bill, however, say that increasing penalties for DUI offenses is not the answer to multiple DUI charges. They propose increasing treatment options and rehabilitation for repeat offenders to help those who may not realize that they have an alcohol problem.
CBS Denver reports that if the bill passes, it will result in added prison costs of about $4.5 million, but legislators say that it’s time to pass it.
“This is the role of government, to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Representative Lori Saine, R-Dacono.