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New DUI law sparks complaints among prosecutors

Some prosecutors in the state of Colorado have claimed that a change that was made to drunk driving laws back in 2015 has made it difficult for them to get stricter punishments for those with multiple offenses. They have asserted that, in some situations, the law has enabled judges to hand down lighter sentences to those with multiple convictions for felony DUI compared to those with just misdemeanor convictions. Whether the reported inconsistency associated with DUI sentencing will be addressed remains unknown.

In Aug. 2015, the state legislature was able to pass a bill to make DUIs following a third offense felonies instead of misdemeanors. At that time, it joined 45 other states in doing so. In an effort to address complaints that this new law was far too punitive, the sponsors of the bill got rid of mandatory minimums, thus allowing judicial discretion when it came to imposing sentences.

The intent of the law was to treat repeat offenders more strictly. However, instead, some serial drunk driving offenders have received lighter sentences than people who have been convicted with their third misdemeanors. The latter are required to spend 60 days behind bars.

Even though people may be arrested for DUI, they are always presumed innocent until and unless their guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt in court. This standard exists in an effort to prevent innocent people from being convicted of and sentenced for crimes they did not commit. The focus of a criminal defense team will be to ensure that the defendant's relevant rights are upheld at all stages of the criminal proceedings in Colorado.

Source:, "Colorado prosecutors say 2015 law change makes tough DUI punishment for repeat offenders difficult", Jack Queen, Feb. 23, 2017

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