Although the New Year ushered in tougher drinking and driving laws in Colorado, many see an obvious defect in the legal scheme to keep drunks off Colorado roads. Under present law, all DUI offenses in the state are misdemeanor infractions no matter how many DUI convictions a person receives.

Under legislation set to be introduced by Rep. Mark Waller, R- Colorado Springs, if a person receives a third DUI conviction within a seven year span they would face a class 4 felony. Waller presented similar legislation last year that passed through the House, but died in a Senate committee without the votes to pass it.

The new proposal has a key difference from last year’s bill – no mandatory incarceration sentences are included. Additionally, the offense has been changed from a class 5 felony to a class 4 felony. Waller said the main intention of his bill is to encourage treatment options. Currently the only vehicle and traffic offenses that carry class 4 felonies are for motor vehicle theft.

According to the group Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, Colorado experienced 133 drunk driving fatalities in 2012 and 25,385 arrests in that same year. The number of drunk driving fatalities accounted for 28% of all total traffic deaths, a 17% decrease from the previous year.

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