Time To Toughen Up Colorado’s Ignition Interlock Law?

Colorado ignition interlock lawThere’s a growing number of states that are reaping the benefits of an all-offender ignition interlock law, and Colorado state is one of them. Colorado passed their ignition interlock law back in 2009, and since that time they’ve reported a decrease in drunk driving deaths overall.

But Colorado seems to be a state that likes to keep that positive momentum going, because they’ve recently put out a new bill that would add strengthen their driving under the influence law even more. House Bill 17-1288 would crack down on Colorado’s repeat drunk driving offenders by toughening up penalties for anyone who commits a class four felony DUI or has been charged with four DUIs in two years.

These penalties include jail time, and it’s not a light sentence. Anyone who meets the criteria for the new law would be required to spend a minimum of ninety days to a maximum of two years in jail. In addition to that, the repeat offender would be required to perform community service and they’d have to attend drug or alcohol classes.

According to Colorado’s all-offender ignition interlock law, any repeat offender in this situation would also be required to install an interlock for a period of four years. In addition to toughening up the jail time for these offenders, it might also be time for Colorado to add time to an every offender’s ignition interlock program.

Some states require anyone convicted of repeat offenses, whether that’s three, four, or five convictions, to install an ignition interlock device for ten years or, in some cases, a lifetime. An interlock is the only concrete prevention that can be used to stop someone from drunk driving over and over again, and when a repeat offender uses the device as directed by the courts or the DMV, he or she is much more likely to never drink and drive again.

House Bill 17-1288 is a good step in stopping repeat offenders, but an improved ignition interlock program with longer program times would also be a smart move in Colorado.

Friday Fallout: Drunk Driving Laws = More People In Jail

drunk driving laws The benefits to improved drunk driving laws are too numerous to count: all offender ignition interlock laws prevent drunk drivers from driving, driver’s license suspensions ensure that the state driver’s services branch are aware that someone has been charged with drunk driving, and fines hit a driver right in the pocket book.

But what about jail time for drunk drivers? It’s not even on the table in some states and a required penalty in others, but jail time for drunk drivers can result in a fall out that not many people have considered: the over-population of the jail system.

Take Colorado for example: a change in drunk driving laws back in 2015 meant that local district attorneys were able to prosecute drunk driving arrests as felony cases and not just simple misdemeanors. That’s resulted in over one thousand new felony DUI cases in state courts, and  because that charge comes with jail time, the Colorado prison population could soon be bursting at the seams.

According to a recent article in the Coloradoan, there may be an increase of approximately five hundred prisoners in Colorado jails over the next few years. That increase has rapidly reversed the decline in prison population, and it’s going to increase costs to the state to house those prisoners.

The problem with having extra costs? They go straight to the tax payer. The good news is that, just like drunk driving, upping the jail population because of improved drunk driving laws is an avoidable situation.  If people stop making the choice to drink and drive over and over again, they won’t end up in jail.

If these repeat offenders don’t ended up in jail the state wouldn’t have to pay to keep them there, and that cost wouldn’t have had to trickle down to tax payers in Colorado. It really makes you think about just how large the problem of drunk driving really is.

Average Colorado Drunk Driver Drinks Double The Legal Limit

colorado drunk driverUnless you’ve got expensive tastes, you probably won’t find a Colorado drunk driving conviction easy on your bank account. A recent study just revealed that the cost for a first offender is around $13,530 thanks to fines and what you’ll pay in extra insurance, fees for driver’s license restatement, and an ignition interlock.

Although most people know that a drunk driving conviction isn’t cheap, Colorado drunk drivers are still hitting the road in droves. After a recent analysis of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of drunk drivers, they’re hitting the road more than a little drunk too. In 2016 the average BAC for a Colorado drunk driver in the El Paso district was 0.168. That’s double the legal limit of .08.

In Colorado if you’re caught driving with a BAC over 0.15 or you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, you’ll be labeled a persistent drunk driver. That designation comes with it’s own set of problems for the driver including an ignition interlock in their vehicle for a minimum of twenty four months and weekly attendance at an alcohol education or substance abuse class for nine months. All of that adds up to a big hit to the wallet.

On top of that cost you could spend a year in jail, and that means you may lose your job. If you lose your job, you’ll have an even harder time paying those extra fees.

The average drunk driver in Colorado might drive with double the legal blood alcohol limit, but Colorado also penalizes drivers on the road who are getting stopped with a BAC of .05 to 0.079. Those drivers receive a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge, and that could net them almost six months in jail.

It sounds like persistent drunk drivers are becoming a real problem in Colorado, but the state is on the right track as far as fines and penalties. Now they need to focus on ignition interlock compliance to stop these drunk drivers from drunk driving again.

That Drunk Driving Conviction Will Really Cost You In Colorado

driving conviction coloradoHave you ever sat down in the driver’s seat of your car and weighed the pros and cons of driving after drinking? Maybe you had one or two drinks and you thought you’d be well below the legal limit of .08, or maybe you knew you were well over but thought you could sneak home anyway.

Yes, you should think about what you’re about to do any time you put your keys in the ignition after you’ve been drinking, and what you should focus on the most is not whether or not you could avoid getting stopped, but what would happen if you were arrested and convicted for drunk driving. That’s when you start paying the price, and that price is rising every year.

Want to know what that drunk driving conviction will really cost you? It depends on your state, but take Colorado as an example: according to the organization No DUI Colorado, the cost of a first offense is comparable to what you would pay for a new-ish car.

After tallying up the costs, No DUI Colorado found that in 2016, a first drunk driving offense in Colorado will cost you approximately $13,530. Back in 2008 that same drunk driving conviction would cost you $10,270. What’s the difference in costs? It’s all due to big changes in Colorado DUI laws over that time period.

On January 1st, 2009, Colorado became an all offender ignition interlock state. That means that any offender who receives a drunk driving conviction will be required to install an ignition interlock in his or her car. Because they are required to install an ignition interlock, they’ll have to pay all costs for installation, monthly fees, and maintenance. Along with fines, penalties to reinstate your driver’s license, and legal costs, that drunk driving conviction all adds up to a huge dent in your bank account.

Thankfully it’s easy to avoid paying that huge chunk of change: the next time you’re sitting in your car and weighing the pros and cons of a driving drunk, don’t do it. Pick up the phone and call a sober friend or a cab instead. In the long run you’ll be much better off.

Fall out Friday: That Drunk Driving Crash Caught Up To Him

drunk driving crashMost people involved in a drunk driving crash will stay at the scene and accept what happens next. Depending on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) they might not be very coherent or know what’s going on around them, but for the most part they’ll stay to be arrested, visit the hospital, and go to jail if required.

Not very many people manage to walk away from a crash with no repercussions at all, but if they do they could find that the fallout from a drunk driving crash could catch up with them one way or another. One Colorado man learned that the hard way after he thought he got away with his own drunk driving crash free and clear.

friday-falloutColin Buchanan caused a crash in June of 2015 in which he collided head on with a jeep. Thankfully no one involved was killed, and when police arrived he told them he’d only had one drink that night. He refused the breathalyzer, wouldn’t do a field sobriety test, and although the arresting police officer asked for a blood draw, it took six hours after the crash to draw his blood. Turns out takes your body two hours to process one drink, so by that time he had a minimal amount of alcohol in his system.

During his trial he pleaded not guilty to his charges, but that defense only held up until, just a few days before his trail concluded, he was overhead by a detective when he was talking to someone at a marijuana dispensary. He was bragging and laughing about how he was drunk at the time of the crash, and that was an huge tactical error on his part because he forced to own up and switch his plea to guilty. Now that he’s spending 400 days in jail, he’ll have a long time to think about his drunk driving crash and wonder why he didn’t plead guilty in the first place.

The moral of this Friday Fallout? This offender in this case would probably tell you that if you drink and drive, one way or another, you’ll pay the price.

Colorado’s Felony DUI Law Experiencing Growing Pains

Colorado felony dui lawThere are a lot of steps involved when a state moves a drunk driving bill from the initial stages to an actual DUI (driving under the influence) law, but once lawmakers have their final signature their job is, for the most part, done. Police can then use the law to charge offenders, and judges can prosecute the offender under the new law to penalize him or her for making the choice to drink and drive.

Laws are use effectively all the time, but sometimes a law passes that isn’t quite as effective as one would hope. That’s what seems to have happened with Colorado’s felony DUI law, although no one seems to know why yet.

According to the Denver Post, judges in the state of Colorado are sentencing repeat drunk drivers who have received a felony DUI charge in ways in different ways. They found that one in twelve defendants didn’t even receive jail time while others were getting long-term stints in prison.

When the felony DUI law passed, it stipulated that if you received three or more DUI convictions in Colorado you’d be charged with a felony, and that felony charge came with up to six years in prison. After reviewing over three hundred felony DUI offender cases, the Denver Post found that twenty-five of the cases ended with zero jail time and only probation or community service. Forty eight percent of the offenders went straight to jail, while thirty percent ended with time in significant time in prison. There were even a few offenders who were sentenced to home detention.

The Denver Post didn’t speculate as to why this is happening in Colorado, but it may be a period of adjustment that levels off for future cases. The problem is that these are repeat drunk driving offenders being dealt with, and a real effort needs to be made to take them off the roads in the way the felony DUI law intended. Otherwise there is a risk they may drink and drive again, and the next arrest could be because they killed someone.

Colorado Drunk Driving Social Experiment Shows Lax attitudes To DUI

Colorado drunk driving‘Tis the season to harvest this year’s crop of hops, and when that happens beer enthusiasts’ thoughts turn to micro-brewery beer tours. These tours are beginning to be big business too, with party buses loaded up with participants to take them on a round-trip tour of various micro-breweries. People take these bus tours to avoid drunk driving, so you’d think they’d notice if someone in the group was sharing in the good times with them when they weren’t supposed to be.

But during one three-brewery tour in Colorado, no one noticed that the party bus driver, the person responsible for keeping them all safe on the bus, was drunk driving. In every brewery he would drink a glass of beer right along with everyone in the tour, and although he was mingling with the groups and someone even asked him “how buzzed are you?” no one stopped him from getting behind the wheel.

The good news? This brewery tour was a social experiment put on by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The tour company, A Few Brews, was a front and two actors played the tour bus driver and the tour guide. Although the tour guide was drinking real beer, the tour bus driver was not.

When the actors informed the participants that they were actors, they also let them know that the tour guide, a man the same size and weight as the bus driver, blew over .05 into a pocket breathalyzer. With one more drink under his belt, he would have been over the legal limit to drive. If the tour bus driver was drinking real alcohol, he could have been charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI) in Colorado.

It was a very sobering wake up call for everyone on the tour, and it drives home a very simple point they clearly didn’t think about: there’s no safe amount of alcohol you can drink before getting behind the wheel of a car. If you think you’re all right to drive after drinking, you need to think again.

Here’s Another Way A DUI Conviction Can Derail Your Life

DUI ConvictionMaybe it’s not something you’ve ever thought about, but there are a lot of ways a DUI conviction (driving under the influence) can derail your life. Unlike receiving a simple traffic ticket that you can pay for and move on, a DUI conviction has long term effects that can affect what you do every day, how you travel, and in some cases, your career.

Take a public servant as an example. When you’re voted into a position, whether that be something high ranking like a Senator or local like a Country Council, you’re expected to be an example of someone upholding the law. Because you’re one of the people voting for new laws or upholding existing laws, you can’t plead ignorance when you break those laws.

That’s why it becomes news when a member of the legislature is arrested for drunk driving. These are people who were voted in, are supposed to uphold the laws, and yet they have broken those laws in one of the most irresponsible ways imaginable. Unfortunately, there’s no end to DUI convictions involving legislative and local government members either.

A Sussex County Council candidate for the Republican primary county seat was recently arrested for driving under the influence. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop, failed field sobriety tests and a preliminary breathalyzer test, and was charged with DUI under the influence of a combination of alcohol and any drug.

An already elected Colorado politician, Representative Dan Pabon, was also stopped for drunk driving after running a red light recently. He was caught on a police officer’s body cam discussing his perception of how sober he was, and although he felt he was OK to drive, he blew .14 on a breathalyzer. That’s double the legal limit of .08 in Colorado, and he pleaded guilty to drunk driving shortly after. He’s still currently employed as a state representative.

Although both officials have since apologized, there’s no way to tell if a DUI conviction will derail their chances of being elected or re-elected. When you’re a pubic servant and you’re not re-elected, you’re out of a job.

That’s why it’s far better not to drive at all after you’ve been drinking: just DUI conviction may change the course of your life.

 

Colorado’s Felony DUI Law Experiencing Growing Pains

felony dui coloradoThere’s only one true way to stop a drunk driver who’s determined to drive, and that’s an ignition interlock. Unfortunately there are people ordered by a judge to have one but they aren’t installing them. Or they live in a state where DUI offenders aren’t required to have an ignition interlock and they’re still driving on a suspended license. Whatever the reason these people are still driving on the roads, its causing a huge repeat offender problem in the United States.

Those repeat offenders will go on to drink and drive again and again, and that’s one of the reasons why Colorado implemented a felony DUI law in the first place. The new law was brought in as of August 2015, and since that time any repeat offender with four or more drunk driving convictions during their lifetime will be punished with a felony charge that brings with it up to six years in prison. Before the law, repeat offenders only received a misdemeanor charge and spent up to one year in prison.

But according to a recent news article, it still remains to be seen whether Colorado’s felony DUI law is working. Although a felony comes with serious prison time and up to $500,000 in fines, Colorado still has a huge repeat offender problem, and it’s been difficult for officers to pinpoint whether someone has multiple DUI charges when it comes time to charge that person. It’s so bad that one officer was quoted as saying, “It’s a mess right now.”

Every new law has growing pains, and odds are the issues the police are having will level out with time. Although it can’t be easy in terms of jail capacity and court time, implementing a felony DUI law for repeat offenders is a good step in the right direction for Colorado. It will take those repeat offenders off the roads and put them behind bars instead of the wheel of their car, and that’s not a bad thing if it shows them the consequences of drinking and driving.

Not Everyone In Colorado Is On Board With DUI Law

felony dui lawOver the past year DUI law (driving under the influence) has undergone some serious changes in Boulder, Colorado, and according to some, the changes haven’t been all good.

The debate over whether or not to even implement a felony DUI law had been going on in the state for years before it came into effect in August of 2015, but just because it’s officially a law doesn’t mean the debate has ended. A public defender in Boulder recently shared with a local paper that the felony DUI charges brought against offenders may not solve Colorado’s DUI problem, and could possibly make it worse by severely punishing the offender and not treating their alcohol issues.

The public defender’s reasoning was that in Colorado, the costs associated with incarcerating offenders are steep and the outcome for the offender once released is dismal. The offender also won’t receive the same alcohol treatment in jail that they could in an alternate program that allows an offender to avoid jail time.

There are currently only five states without a felony DUI law, and Boulder’s felony law is similar to others you may find in California and Montana. In Colorado a repeat offender with four or more DUI convictions will be found guilty of a felony. With a felony on record that offender can spend up to six years in prison.

Jail time and the costs of jail time are two of the reason’s why people object to felony DUI laws. On one hand, felony DUI laws put the offender away and hold that person accountable for the crime of repeat drunk driving. On the other hand, it’s much more likely that a felony DUI will derail someone’s life in ways that can’t easily be fixed. It’s harder to find a job with a felony on record, you can’t travel to a different country without special permission, and that person may go bankrupt paying off the fines, penalties, and costs involved in settling the DUI.

Despite the hardship the offender suffers because of the felony, it’s nothing compared to what an innocent person can endure at the hands of a drunk driver. When you put your keys in the ignition and drive drunk, severe injury and death are two of the most likely outcomes for you and anyone in your path. Although the debate over whether the laws are too harsh will continue, stopping these people with serious jail time and ignition interlocks when they are released should be the priority for every state.

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