Up until now, Colorado has been one of the more lenient states when it comes to punishing those convicted of multiple DUIs. Our Colorado Legislature has been very slow to react to the growing public intolerance of repeat DUI offenders. In fact, it was reported last year that Colorado was only one of four remaining states where a third DUI conviction was not a felony. In Colorado, the only way a person can get a jail sentence in excess of a year is if they are charged with a felony. Arapahoe County District Attorney, George Brauchler, recently reported how surprisingly difficult it truly is to impose a significant jail sentence on a misdemeanor drunk driver.
Recently, grass roots efforts to change Colorado’s law sprang out of a news story that aired on Fox News, reported by Investigative Journalist Heidi Hemmat. The story started a groundswell that made its way into legislation this year in House Bill 15-1043. House Bill 15-1043 was signed into law on June 1, 2015 by Governor Hickenlooper. The bill ensures that anyone with a third DUI conviction will receive a felony 4 conviction, and an equivalent sentence. The effect of the new law is that a drunk driver can now be jailed as a felon for longer durations of time with greater effect on the convict’s ability to come out, earn wages, and return back into society.
Heidi Hemmat’s reporting on this issue garnered national attention with her series of stories chronicling Colorado’s loophole allowing repeat drunk drivers to return to the street without felony convictions or jail sentences. On June 23, 2015 MADD awarded Heidi Hemmat the 2015 Local Station MADD award for her efforts to bring this concern to light and its effect in creating a groundswell in the Colorado Legislature that ultimately changed Colorado’s laws for the better. Colorado’s new three DUI felony conviction law takes effect on August 5, 2015.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we applaud Heidi Hemmat’s efforts and support the new law imposing stiffer penalties on repeat drunk drivers. Drunk driving destroys lives and the new law will hopefully deter people from driving drunk and more severely punish those who decide to endanger the lives of other drivers on the road. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, please call one of our attorneys today.
Read more at kdvr.com Fox 31 Denver: Heidi Hemmat Wins Mothers Against Drunk Driving National Award
See the original investigative report here: Weak Law Creates Safety Threat from Repeat Drunk Drivers
UPDATE 07/22/2015 - Heidi Hemmat Wins Third Emmy Award for Investigative Reporting Done While Pushing to Get this New Law passed. Congratulations for Another Job Well Done Heidi! Keep Up the Good Work.