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Colorado Felony DUI Bill Now in Effect

On August 5, Colorado marked a significant shift in its approach to combating drunk driving with the enactment of a new felony DUI law. This legislation targets repeat offenders who have accumulated four DUI convictions, imposing stringent consequences that include imprisonment for a period ranging from two to six years and a hefty fine of up to $500,000.

The move aligns Colorado with 46 other states that are already implementing felony DUI laws. Before this development, the state’s legal framework categorized repeat offenders under misdemeanors, subjecting them to relatively lenient sentences of a year or less in jail. While the scope of the law is extensive, affecting only a small percentage of the state’s annual tally of over 24,000 drunk driving cases, its implications are far-reaching.

The new statute doesn’t guarantee a felony conviction for every repeat offender. Judicial discretion plays a pivotal role in determining the final charges imposed. The law stipulates that courts must carefully evaluate the circumstances of each case, considering factors such as the offender’s willingness to undergo rehabilitation. The decision to impose prison time hinges on the court’s assessment of whether treatment will likely be ineffective in reforming the individual.

Contrary to the misconception that one can escape the consequences by obtaining a DUI in another state, the law closes this potential loophole. Offenses such as DUI, DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), vehicular assault, and vehicular homicide in any of the 50 states contribute towards the four-strike limit in Colorado, reinforcing the state’s commitment to cracking down on drunk driving across state lines.

For individuals facing a fourth DUI charge, the repercussions are potentially severe. The likelihood of significant legal consequences looms large, as the law aims to address the persistent issue of repeat offenses by implementing a more robust and punitive framework. The gravity of the situation is underscored by the substantial prison sentences and exorbitant fines that can be levied upon those found guilty under the new law.

Beyond the numerical threshold, the law emphasizes the need for a nuanced approach to handling repeat DUI offenders. The court’s discretion allows for a case-by-case analysis, considering the specific circumstances and the potential for rehabilitation. This underscores a shift in the legal paradigm from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more individualized and rehabilitative strategy. However, it also places a considerable burden on the judiciary to carefully weigh the factors and make informed decisions that balance punishment with the prospect of reformation.

Critics argue that while the law may serve as a deterrent, there is a pressing need for comprehensive measures that address the root causes of drunk driving. Education, rehabilitation programs, and community outreach are highlighted as essential components of a holistic strategy to combat this pervasive issue. The emphasis on treatment and reformative measures reflects a broader societal acknowledgment that punitive measures alone may not suffice in curbing the incidence of repeat DUI offenses.

Moreover, the law’s extraterritorial reach, incorporating offenses from other states into the four-strike limit, raises questions about interstate legal cooperation and enforcement. This development necessitates a closer examination of the legal complexities involved in coordinating efforts to track and penalize repeat offenders who traverse state borders.


In conclusion, implementing the Colorado Felony DUI Bill marks a significant stride in the state’s commitment to enhancing road safety and addressing the serious consequences of driving under the influence. This legislative measure, which came into effect recently, underscores the gravity of repeated DUI offenses, particularly those resulting in felony charges. To prevent further instances of impaired driving and protect the public, the bill introduces stricter penalties for habitual DUI offenders. In navigating the legal landscape surrounding DUI cases, individuals in Colorado can seek guidance from legal experts such as Thomas & Ahnell, LLC. As seasoned attorneys specializing in criminal defense, Thomas & Ahnell, LLC are well-equipped to provide effective representation and navigate the complexities of the new legislation, ensuring that clients receive fair and knowledgeable assistance in their legal matters.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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