Senate Dems Drop the Ball on DUI Felony Law

May 8 2014, 10:45 AM

Why is this OK?

This week, Senate Democrats defeated a proposed, bipartisan bill that would have made it a felony to get three DUIs in a seven-year stretch, or a fourth one ever. House Bill 14-1036, which passed out of the state House by a 56-6 margin, would have resulted in a class 4 felony for such offenses and carried a prison sentence of up to six years.

The bill was sponsored by Steve King (R–Grand Junction) and Mike Johnston (D–Denver). Among the Senate dissenters was Mary Hodge (D–Brighton) who cast a no vote with the comment that she feels legislative efforts should be focused more on treating "the disease of alcoholism rather than locking people up."

Hodge's stance makes sense for first- or possibly second-time DUI offenders. But if you've gotten a third or fourth DUI, you've either failed at treatment or are obviously disinterested in getting it, so maybe a prison sentence is the only thing that will keep you from harming yourself—or, more importantly, someone else.

One P.S. that emerged from this debate is that Colorado remains one of just four states that imposes no felony restrictions on drunk driving. That's right, our home state, the birthplace of one of our nation's top-selling beer brands, the seminal cradle of the booming microbrewery and craft distillery industries, a place that celebrates each and every occasion to raise a glass, also sees no need to severely penalize those who—time and again—turn their car into a deadly weapon after drinking.

I can't decide if this is ironic or logical. Either way, it's inexcusable.

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.

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