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Colorado habitual DUI/DUID/DWAI offenders face tougher penalties

People in Colorado who are considered habitual intoxicated drivers will now be facing felony charges, along with lengthier prison sentences. This is according to a new law that recently took effect in the state. This law related to DUI/DUID/DWAI is part of dozens of laws now being enforced throughout the state.

The law involving stricter punishment for repeat DWI offenders has taken several years to pass. Previously, Colorado was one of five U.S. states in which habitual intoxicated drivers were charged with misdemeanors no matter how many times they had been arrested for DUI. Some people were against punishing these offenders more harshly due to the higher costs associated with imprisoning them. Instead, they supported investing in programs for the treatment of substance abuse.

However, several people supported the idea of punishing drunk drivers more harshly due to the fact that offenders with several previous convictions ended up getting into serious crashes. For instance, one crash caused by a drunk driver back in January caused the death of three family members who were heading home from church: a 37-year-old man and his two sons, ages 6 and 1. According to the new law, a person convicted of DUI charges for the fourth time may be sentenced to prison for up to six years, as well as be made to pay a fine as high as $500,000.

People arrested on charges of DUI/DUID/DWAI may fight the allegations in court or choose to take advantage of a plea deal offered by prosecutors, which could result in a lighter sentence for the individual. If the individual proceeds to trial, prosecutors must prove the person's charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Only then can the person be legally convicted in Colorado.

Source: durangoherald.com, "Tougher penalties for DUIs among new Colorado laws", Ivan Moreno, Aug. 2, 2015

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