As of July 1st, 2010, anyone charged with a multiple DUI or DWAI in Colorado will be facing much harsher penalties. House Bill 1347, effective in July, takes discretion away from judges in sentencing these cases. Some of the most significant changes require that straight jail be imposed for individuals convicted of a second DUI or DWAI offense within 5 years, as well as straight jail time for those on their 3rd conviction. Good time will not be awarded for the minimum mandatory sentences in these cases, and In Home Detention will no longer be authorized. A judge will not be able to consider mitigation of any sort as it relates to the imposition of these sentences in DUI or DWAI cases.
These new statutory regulations for DUI cases will have many far-reaching consequences, some intended and some unintended, as more and more people are sentenced under this new scheme. Some of the likely issues which will need to be addressed include the ability of jails to adequately care for defendants with serious medical conditions, the loss of employment precipitated by a jail sentence without the option of work release or school release, and a large increase in Colorado’s jail population and the expense associated with this increase.
We will keep you updated as these and other issues reach the forefront of the debate surrounding this new DUI law.
Russell Hebets is a Denver DUI Attorney and member of the National College of DUI Defense.
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