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Felony DUI bill amended, but has gained strong support

Last month, we noted that lawmakers in the Colorado House of Representatives were considering a bill that would impose stricter penalties upon repeat DUI offenders. As we noted, the original version of the bill sought to impose felony charges on DUI defendants who have three prior DUI convictions, although felony charges could be issued after only two convictions in cases where there are aggravating factors.

By way of an update, an amended version of the bill has been able to gain bipartisan support and it looks like the bill is set to continue moving forward. With a significant showing of support, commentators are saying that the bill is likely to be passed. The main challenge is the steep costs of implementing the measure. In fact, the changes made to the original bill primarily target its cost burden. Under the amended proposal, taxpayers would pay$1 million in the first year and a total of $8 million—down from $17 million—over three years. 

Here in Colorado, as in other states, DUI charges carry increasingly harsh penalties with each conviction. Those who face a second or third DUI charge should always work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are protected. This is all the more important given the fact that, under the bill, a fourth conviction—or a third conviction if aggravating factors are present--could land a defendant in prison for between two and six years.

In working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, defendants have the opportunity to build a strong case aimed at minimizing the consequences of DUI charges. And even though penalties cannot always be altogether avoided, even a little bit of skilled defense work can go a long way.

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