It can be hard to take things like drinking and driving seriously if the only penalty handed out is a traffic citation. This man, for example, figured that his 10th DUI in Colorado would just earn him a summons for a future court date. He already knew the DUI drill – or so he thought.
Last year, Colorado upped the DUI ante to officially put the brakes on repeat offenders. Similar to the “three strike” DUI felony statutes in many other states, Colorado adopted a “fourth strike” policy for drunk drivers. That gives a DUI offender a lot to consider, especially with the long-term limits put on personal freedom with any felony conviction.
For example, a felony DUI in Colorado means the offender could:
- Be fined up to $500,000.
- Spend at least 2 years in prison, with a six-year maximum sentence.
- Be designated a “habitual traffic offender” with a four-year ignition interlock requirement.
- Lose civil rights like gun ownership, voting, traveling abroad, etc.
Colorado isn’t the only state that has had such a liberal policy toward drunk drivers. Wisconsin, for example, is looking at much stricter consequences for drunk drivers than ever before, including an ignition interlock requirement for first-time offenders. Colorado has had an all-offender ignition interlock policy in place for a while, making it much more difficult to accrue subsequent drunk driving convictions. Obviously, if the man figured his 10th DUI was no big deal, he ignored his ignition interlock requirement, too.
Keeping the roads safe is a vital part of legislature, even if it removes the “right” to drive under the influence of alcohol. After a while, and a few convictions in Colorado, you could lose a lot more than your “right” to drive, even with an interlock. You could be looking at a felony that changes your life forever.