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Colorado DUI Laws: Could stronger regulations save lives?

Repeat drunk drivers are an increasing concern for Colorado law enforcement and motorists on the road.

Colorado has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Despite this strong legislation, however, intoxicated drivers continue to take the lives of innocent motorists on the roads. In 2013, 142 people were killed in drunk driving accidents across the state, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all motor vehicle deaths that year. This DUI fatality rate increased by 6 percent from the year before, leaving many people to question whether the state should strengthen the DUI policies even more.

In January of 2015, a family was killed in a terrible auto accident caused by driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when the collision occurred. Since 1997, the 32-year-old driver has been arrested eight times for DUI, according to the 9 News report. This time, however, his decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated led to the deaths of a mother and father, as well as two small children. The drunk driver had crossed the median in the center of the road and smashed into the family’s car, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

Multiple DUI Issue

Colorado is one of five states in the nation, in addition to Washington D.C., that does not prosecute multiple DUI offenders as felons. Under the current law, convicted offenders who have been charged with multiple DUIs are sent to prison for one year. One reason why drunk driving is so concerning is that motorists who drive while intoxicated do so on an average of 80 times before they are apprehended by law enforcement, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Colorado’s approach to repeat DUI convictions changed this year. On June 1, Gov. Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that makes a person’s fourth drunk driving conviction a felony. Those convicted under the new measure, which goes into effect in August, will face up to six years in prison for fourth and subsequent drunk driving offenses.

A National Problem

Drunk drivers are not only a problem in Colorado, but across the United States. MADD reported that in 2013, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving car accidents, and an additional 290,000 people were seriously injured. Many states, including Colorado, have implemented an ignition interlock device program, requiring all DUI offenders to use the device in their vehicles. While the machine is installed, DUI offenders are unable to drive while they have a blood alcohol concentration level that is over the preset limit. This keeps drunk drivers off of the roads and helps to increase the safety of other drivers.

Contacting an Attorney

Drunk drivers should be held accountable for their actions. If you suffer from serious injuries stemming from a drunk driving accident, you may want to seek legal counsel from an established attorney in Colorado. They may be able to help walk you through the legal process and increase your chances of getting compensation for your case.