Colorado’s DUI Felony laws have evolved slowly, but are making steady progress. After cases of repeat offenders causing accidents that lead to injuries or worse, it was decided that a more severe punishment was necessary to drive the no-DUI lesson home. So, in 2015, Colorado made sure that repeat DUI offenders couldn’t get off so easily by increasing the penalty for a fourth DUI to a felony. That fourth DUI also resulted in up to six years of prison time and a long-term ignition interlock requirement.
However, that change to the DUI laws hasn’t shown enough results, a trend that isn’t just specific to Colorado. Statistically, a felony class conviction for drunk driving doesn’t do much in Colorado or in any of the 46 states that incorporate similar laws. In fact, there are statistically lower DUI charge rates in states that don’t have felony DUI laws.
Generally speaking, jailing someone doesn’t teach them sober driving. Ignition interlock devices, along with suspended licenses and court-ordered supervision are more effective. An ignition interlock device is installed into every personal vehicle of someone convicted of a DUI, requiring them to give a breath sample that is tested for the presence of alcohol. If there is alcohol detected above the pre-set limit, they are unable to drive the vehicle. This suspension also means they cannot operate any other vehicles without an interlock installed. This is a far more effective way to punish drivers, as they will not be able to drive without the device, nor can they drive with the device if they’ve been drinking.
All of this leads to the next step of expanding ignition interlock device access for all DUI offenses. That means that instead of heaping on the consequences at the second or third conviction, an offender is given the best tool for recovery and rehabilitation the first time they drink and drive. 2017 could be the year that Colorado takes another step toward safer streets, and we hope that ignition interlock devices are a big part of that evolution.