A Parent’s Nightmare: Teen Drunk Driving In Colorado Kills Two

teen drunk driving in ColoradoIt can be scary for a parent to let their teen drive the family car. There’s a lot of danger out on the roads, and you worry about speeding, aggressive driving, and potential crashes. Those are valid concerns, but if one recent case of drunk driving in Colorado is any indication, any parent of a teen should be on red alert for the greatest danger of all: drinking and driving.

It happened in Centennial, Colorado, and because it was a case of drunk driving at 3 pm in the afternoon, it should give pause to parents who feel safer when their teens are driving during the day. Taden Jones, only 18 years old, was speeding down a busy road at 3:40 pm in the afternoon when he crashed into another vehicle.

One woman in the other car was ejected and died at the scene, while the other woman in the vehicle died at the hospital of her injuries. There was also another passenger in the vehicle Jones hit, and he suffered minor injuries.

When he was arrested he tried to give the police officers a fake ID, and he admitted to drinking three beer before he drove. He was formally charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and drunk driving in Colorado.

Colorado has a zero tolerance law in place for drivers under the age of 21, and according to the penalties in place for underage drivers, Jones would have been charged with drunk driving and had his driver’s license revoked even if he had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 on the breathalyzer. Because of the vehicular homicide charges, the future he’s facing includes penalties much more severe than a simple driver’s license suspension.

It’s every parent’s nightmare. Not only are two lives over due to drunk driving, one teenager has to live for the rest of his life with what he’s done. It doesn’t matter what time of day your teen is driving, if they get behind the wheel while drunk, anything can happen. If you haven’t yet talked to your teen about drunk driving, now’s the time to do it.

Here’s What’s Been Happening In The World Of Colorado DUI

what's new in colorado duiDriving under the influence (DUI) offenders are arrested in every state every single day, although it seems as if, at times, states have more offenders than others. Here’s a look at what’s been going on in the world of Colorado DUI over the past few weeks.

State Representative arrested for Colorado DUI

Dan Pabon, the state rep for Northwest Denver, was arrested on St.Patrick’s Day for suspicion of DUI. The police who stopped him said he had slurred speech and was mumbling, and after he failed field sobriety tests he was taken to the Denver Health Medical Center for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. He released a statement shortly after detailing his regret and his full cooperation with authorities.

When he apologized to his colleagues he noted that it was ironic that he’s supported bills to change Colorado DUI laws. He’s been behind a bill requiring any Colorado DUI offender to meet with their victims as part of their punishment, and that bill is expected to be signed by the Governor of Colorado this coming week.

Man who killed bicyclist gets 10 years in prison

A crash back in August where a drunk driver struck and killed a father riding his bike has resulted in 10 years in prison for a 20-year-old man. With a blood alcohol of 0.204 and marijuana in his system, the driver crossed a double yellow line while going uphill and hit the bicycle.

School bus driver suspected of DUI

After a Denver bus driver dropped off 30 students at one stop, a staff member noted the smell of alcohol on his breath. She called him into the district transportation office who contacted police, and he was apprehended while driving shortly after. He’s been arrested for DUI, suspended from his job, and charges are pending the blood alcohol results.

There are a lot of bills on the table designed to toughen up Colorado DUI laws, but let’s hope that Colorado continues to toughen up their ignition interlock program too.

 

Flock Of Sheep Victims Of Drunk Driving Crash

sheep-killed-drunk-driving-crashUsually the victims of drunk driving crashes are people, and more often than not those people are in another vehicle that’s crashed into by a drunk driver. But every so often you hear about a drunk driving crash of another kind: the kind where it’s not humans who are the innocent victims.

That’s the reason a woman in Colorado is in hot water right now. She’s been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after she crashed her vehicle into a flock of sheep on a rural Colorado road. She managed to kill 42 sheep before she fled the scene, but because she left her license plate at the site of the crash, police found her shortly after and charged her with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident where property damage occurred, and not providing proof of insurance.

A flock of sheep may have been her innocent victims, but the woman who hit the flock and ran is facing some stiff charges. Because Colorado is one of the many states cracking down on first time offenders, she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if she has a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) if she has a BAC of .05 to but less than .08. Either conviction could result in jail time for a first offender: a DUI will net an offender up to one year in prison while someone charged with DWAI will spend up to 180 days. With either charge she’ll also pay fines and lose her drivers license.

Colorado doesn’t have an ignition interlock law for first time offenders, so if she’s never received a DUI charge before, odds are she’ll be back behind the wheel of a car within the year. At that point, what’s stopping her from causing another drunk driving crash? Maybe next time she won’t hit an innocent flock of sheep: next it could be a group of people.

Colorado Cracking Down On Repeat DUI Offenders, and It’s Working

DUI-ColoradoWith every driving under the influence (DUI) law there will be opponents and supporters. The same people who criticize DUI laws because they don’t crack down on the worst offenders can be one in the same as the people who feel those offenders just need a better treatment plan instead of jail. That’s why it’s nice to see that the new Colorado DUI law is having an immediate impact, because now there is no question that the state did the right thing in passing harsher penalties.

The new bill was signed this past June and went into effect on August 5th, 2015. After years of debate, the Governor signed a bill that made it a felony to have a fourth driving under the influence offense. Before the new bill, you could receive an unlimited number of DUI convictions and you’d never get more than a short time in community jail.

Six short days after the new law went into effect, one repeat DUI offender is the first person in Colorado to head to jail over a repeat offense. It was her fourth DUI, and according to the local police who pulled her over, she was aware that a 4th DUI now qualifies for a felony in Colorado. Now that a fourth conviction will net the offender a possible felony, she could end up being punished by up to 6 years in state prison and a massive $500,000 fine.

Repeat DUI offenders are also required to install an ignition interlock device upon second conviction, and they are required to have that ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for two to five years before they will be eligible for an unrestricted license again.

Whether you support harsher penalties for repeat offenders or you think jail time doesn’t solve anything, the state of Colorado is definitely showing that they’re taking steps to address the problem of repeat drunk driving offenders.

Colorado: 40 Years In Jail For DUI Crash

40-years-jail-dui-crashWhen developing penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) convictions, lawmakers really have their work cut out for them. It’s one thing to come up with a penalty for someone who made the choice to drink and drive one time and didn’t crash or kill anyone, because those offenders may see fines, jail time, and ignition interlock programs as enough of a deterrent to never make the choice to get behind the wheel drunk again.

But what about repeat offenders and offenders who have drank and drove themselves into situations causing injury or death? How do lawmakers set guidelines for penalties for these individuals? Although the drunk driver who took a life deserves to be punished for his or her crime, it’s very difficult to put a number on how many years in jail will make the family feel as though justice has been served.

That’s the case in Colorado recently when a 3-time drunk driver decided to drive drunk again, and this time he took a life in the process. 40-year-old Ever Olivos-Gutierrez was speeding at 80 mph through multiple intersections, running 4 red lights and crashing right into 17-year-old Juan Carlos Dominguez-Palomino. The impact killed the teen, and when police arrived they found that Olivos-Gutierrez had a blood alcohol concentration of three times the legal limit of .08.

The defense asked for the minimum jail sentence of 24 years for his crime, while prosecutors felt that Olivos-Gutierrez should be required to serve 40 years to give justice to the family of the teen. The judge sided with the prosecution, and Olivos-Gutierrez will serve 40 years and pay $7,500 in restitution to the family for his crime of drunk driving causing death.

In this case, the family feels as though justice has been served. With 3 prior DUI convictions on the books, 40 years is a suitable length of time for Olivos-Gutierrez to think about the choice he made to drink and drive.

Not every case ends with the family feeling satisfied with the DUI sentence, so lawmakers will continue to improve drunk driving laws and judges will continue to impose the harshest sentences available to them within state law. Until people stop making the choice to drink and drive, penalizing drunk drivers is a struggle lawmakers and law enforcement will continue to have.

Life After A DUI In Colorado

life-after-dui-coloradoColorado has had a lot of firsts lately—they’ve legalized marijuana and strengthened their driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) laws, all within a few years. Now that they’ve got harsh penalties in place, Colorado really isn’t a place you want to be charged with drinking and driving.

Here’s a look at life after a DUI in Colorado

Colorado is known for clean, fresh air and great skiing, but what if you decided to tip back a few après ski drinks and get behind the wheel? The minute those lights flash in your rear view window or you drive up to a checkpoint, you’re going to start worrying about your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). That’s because the type of penalties you’ll receive depends on what your BAC is when driving drunk in Colorado.

A DWAI offense occurs when you have you’re a BAC between .05 and .08, and a DUI is when your BAC is over .08. Either way, you’ll need to get ready to say goodbye to your freedom for awhile because Colorado requires a first offender to spend up to one year in jail for a DUI charge and 180 days for a DWAI charge.

As far as pocket change goes, you’re going to have to accept that your wallet will be empty because a Colorado DUI is expensive. You can receive fines up to $1,000 for a DUI and $500 for a DWAI, and that doesn’t include the fees associated with receiving your driver license again.

If you think your drive days are over after a DUI, you’re right. A Colorado DUI conviction means a 9-month driver’s license suspension. If you install an ignition interlock device, you can drive again after applying for a restricted license when the first month of your suspension is up.

One last thing—if you’re one of Colorado’s repeat offender and this is your 4th DUI, you’re in for a surprise. Colorado’s governor just signed a new bill into law that opens up the possibility of a felony conviction for a fourth DUI. If you’re convicted of felony DUI, you’ll be inside a state prison for up to 6 years and you’ll have to pay fines up to $500,000.

As you can see, receiving a DUI in Colorado isn’t such a great idea. Do yourself a favor and don’t drink and drive: that way you’ll never find out what life’s like after a DUI in Colorado or anywhere else.

Colorado Felony DUI Bill On A Roll

felony dui If you live in Colorado, you may be following the debate over how they plan to deal with repeat driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. Just like in any state, repeat offenders are a real problem that both law enforcement and lawmakers struggle with how to best address.

In other states, most repeat offenders with 3 or more DUI convictions will be charged with a felony. Colorado has been one of the few states without a felony DUI law, but that may be about to change. With several victims of DUI standing up in support, a bill to pass a felony DUI law was approved by Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee and passed through the House Finance Committee with unanimous approval.

There was an amendment to the original bill that was added before it passed – instead of having 3 or more DUIs result in a felony charge, the state of Colorado would like to have four DUI’s in a lifetime to be the requirement for a felony.

As it stands today, a repeat DUI offender in Colorado has a fairly light punishment. They will spend up to one year in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, and lose their driver’s license for one year. They will also be required to install an ignition interlock device.

If the felony DUI bill passes, it will be an automatic felony if someone receives 4 or more DUI’s in a lifetime, drives drunk with a minor in the vehicle, leaves the scene of a crash, causes harm to a person or property, or if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher. Second or more DUI offenders will also be required to install an ignition interlock device for 2 to 5 years.

The fight for the felony DUI law is not over yet – next up is the House Appropriations Committee where it may see a bit of opposition. To stay up to date on Colorado’s DUI laws, keep watching Guardian Interlock.

Moving Toward Zero Traffic Deaths In Colorado

drunk drivingWhen it comes to drunk driving deaths, one death is one too many. Unfortunately a large number of alcohol related fatalities still occur every year, and that’s why Colorado is one of 35 states joining in for a campaign called ‘Moving Towards Zero Deaths.’

Zero might be a lofty goal when you consider the amount of traffic related deaths in Colorado. In 2013, there were 481 traffic related deaths, with 91 of those being alcohol-related. But alcohol-related traffic deaths are only the second leading cause of death on Colorado roads, with distracted driving taking the #1 slot.

Strict driving under the influence (DUI) laws could be the reason why distracted driving may be taking more lives than drunk driving. Colorado DUI laws require penalties for first offenders including jail time, $1,500 in fines, a 9-month driver’s license suspension, and an ignition interlock program for anyone who wishes to drive during their time of suspension.

In contrast, distracted driving penalties in the state don’t hold the same weight. Although Colorado’s phone and texting while driving laws are considered primary laws where the officer doesn’t have to pull you over for another violation to issue a citation, the fines only range from $50 for a first offense to $100 for a second offense.

In order to make the Moving Towards Zero Deaths campaign successful, lawmakers need to address both drunk driving and distracted driving deaths by toughening up laws. Take DUI laws for example – there is currently a bill on the table that would impose a felony charge on anyone who has a 3rd or 4th DUI conviction in Colorado.

Will Colorado be able to reach their goal of a reduction in traffic related deaths by 2019 as planned? It’s a tall order to fill, but even one life saved is worth the effort.

Victim Stands Behind Colorado Felony DUI Bill

repeat dui People who drive drunk frequently will often ask themselves, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ They probably picture safely pulling into their destination without a scratch, and some drunk drivers even think that driving while drunk can make them a better driver. But the worst that can happen is probably worse than they could ever imagine, and that’s injuring or killing someone because they made the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking.

One woman from Grand Junction, Colorado is an example of what can happen when someone decides to drive drunk, and because she’ll be affected for the rest of her life by her crash, she’s standing up for a felony driving under the influence (DUI) bill that crack down on Colorado drunk drivers.

The list of surgeries Ellie Phipps has had to endure due to being hit from behind by a drunk driver is extensive. She had open-heart surgery where she died three times on the table, was forced to wear a half body cast for 20 months, and will need to wear a brace for the rest of her life. But what makes her most angry is that repeat DUI offenders in Colorado, some who have had up to 20 DUIs, have never spent time in jail.

The proposed felony DUI bill would change all that – any repeat offender with 3 or 4 strikes would receive a felony charge, and in Colorado that would mean an increase in DUI penalties. Right now, if you receive a second DUI conviction in Colorado, you’ll get up to 1 year in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, lose your driver’s license for a period of one year, and must install an ignition interlock device.

Colorado drunk drivers need to realize that, when it comes to drunk driving, the worst that can happen is often exactly what does happen. Let’s hope they pass that felony DUI bill and stand up for victims like Ellie Phipps.

NHTSA Says Drinking And Driving More Dangerous Than Drugged Driving

drinking and drivingWe all know drinking and driving is a bad idea. Every time you get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, you have an increased risk of crashing your vehicle. But did you know it’s more likely you’ll crash if you are drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol than if you drove after you’ve used marijuana?

A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that those drivers who used marijuana had a lower crash risk than drivers who drank alcohol and drove. There are a lot of different reasons why a detectable drug presence doesn’t measure up to alcohol when it comes to driving, and one major reason is that alcohol is fairly predictable. There is concrete data as to how long it takes the body to metabolize it, so it’s easy to tell how much or how little alcohol will affect your driving skills. Because there are so many different types of drugs and each are chemically different, it’s hard to accurately say how your body will react. You could be severely intoxicated from one drug while showing little effect from another.

Although the NHTSA study shows that marijuana use doesn’t affect your crash risk, Colorado is one state that’s decided to fight back against marijuana-impaired driving. They have driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) laws that set a THC blood alcohol threshold of 5 nanograms per milliliter. If police determine you violate that threshold, Colorado penalties include jail time, license suspension, and the possibility of an ignition interlock in any vehicle you drive.

Does the NHTSA study mean everyone should relax their guard about driving under the influence of drugs? Not at all. With several companies working on marijuana breathalyzers and law enforcement reporting an increase in stoned driving, driving under the influence of anything is a bad idea.

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