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Colorado’s Stricter Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders

In early June, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 15-1043 into law, ushering in a new era of stricter penalties for repeat DUI (Driving Under the Influence) offenders. This bill marked a significant shift in how the state handles individuals arrested for four or more DUI offenses. While DUIs were previously considered misdemeanor charges, the new legislation brings substantial consequences for repeat offenders.

In accordance with the amended legislation, individuals with three or more previous convictions for drunk driving now confront a Class 4 Felony in the event of subsequent DUI charges. This elevation in classification introduces the possibility of substantial penalties, encompassing a potential prison term of up to six years and a substantial fine reaching up to $500,000.

The Impact of House Bill 15-1043

The enactment of House Bill 15-1043 prompts a crucial inquiry: what will be the impact of these enhanced penalties on the number of repeat DUI offenders affected? While providing a precise prediction is challenging, estimations indicate that, based on existing patterns, more than 100 repeat offenders could potentially be subject to felony charges in the upcoming 12 months.

Understanding the Prevalence of Repeat Drunk Driving

Understanding the importance of this legislative modification necessitates a close examination of the recurring issue of drunk driving. 

As per information furnished by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately one-third of all DUI arrests and convictions encompass individuals with prior offenses. Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) highlighted in 2013 that on any given day, approximately 300,000 individuals across the United States drive under the influence of alcohol. However, only around 4,000 of them are subject to arrest.

These statistics shed light on the alarming frequency of repeat drunk driving incidents. However, they also underline the complexity of addressing this issue solely through stricter penalties.

A Call for Rehabilitation

While the new felony DUI law represents a significant step towards deterring repeat offenders, it does not address the root causes of repeat drunk driving. It is essential to recognize that individuals with three or more DUI convictions may not be dissuaded by increased punishment for a fourth offense. Rather than focusing solely on incarceration, a more holistic approach involving rehabilitation and education may prove more effective in preventing further DUI offenses.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you are confronted with felony charges due to repeated incidents of drunk driving, seeking advice and representation from a proficient DUI attorney becomes crucial. In such a situation, a skilled attorney with expertise in DUI cases can aid you in navigating the complexities of the legal system, protecting your rights, and working towards the most favorable resolution for your case.


In conclusion, In summary, the implementation of House Bill 15-1043 represents a substantial change in how Colorado deals with recurrent DUI offenses. While imposing stricter penalties is a positive move, addressing the root problems of alcohol addiction and repeat instances of drunk driving demands holistic solutions that prioritize rehabilitation and prevention. If you are facing felony DUI charges, it is recommended to promptly seek the assistance of a legal expert to effectively address your case.

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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