The first Coloradan law regarding felony DUIs wasn't created until 2015. The first felony penalty was created with the law, and over 1,000 arrests have been made since.
The new law came with harsh penalties including the risk of going to prison for a DUI if the person has three or more DUI convictions on their record. Before the change in the law, DUIs were always treated as misdemeanors within the state, and the maximum jail term was a year.
In the past, people believed that there wasn't enough being done to hold people accountable when they were repeat offenders. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to track the sentencing outcomes among those who are charged in accordance with the new law. That makes it new territory for attorneys, who have to quickly help clients defend themselves.
The process of enforcing the new law is complicated, though, which can be beneficial to those accused. For instance, the way different states document crimes vary, so it's not always easy to tell if a person has two or three previous DUI charges against them. This means that lots of people accused were able to escape a felony conviction. Additionally, dropping the DUI to a misdemeanor is much easier than changing a misdemeanor to a felony, which works in the accused's favor.
Why do people dislike the new felony DUI law?
Some people dislike the new felony law due to the fact that it adds additional strain to the prison system. People on both sides agreed that the law needed to have penalties that would include increasing access to treatment for substance abuse and addiction. This is normally the problem that leads to DUIs, which is what has to be addressed. Simply placing people in prison or jail doesn't do the job, because they leave without a job and without the treatment needed to avoid returning to substance abuse.
DUI attorneys often believe that the best way to help their clients is not through a jail or prison sentence but through alternative options, like rehabilitation and addiction treatment. This law has inconsistency in sentencing, which means that not everyone gets the opportunity to receive these treatments. This is something your attorney will fight for if you're accused of a felony DUI, because the reality is that addiction treatment and rehabilitation is more effective than placing a person in jail for a crime.