New DUI law to take effect
August 8, 2017
A new law that goes into effect today gives judges more guidance when it comes to sentencing someone who has been convicted of a fourth DUI.
The law addresses what The Denver Post discovered was a wide range of sentences being handed down by judges.
After reviewing cases pertaining to a state law that made a fourth DUI a felony, The Post found about 8 percent of the people convicted were not incarcerated at all. Nearly 30 percent of the cases The Denver Post looked at resulted in a prison sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Karzen said the law is relevant in Routt and Moffat counties.
He recalled one case where a man pleaded guilty to a felony DUI because it potentially resulted in a lesser jail sentence under the old law.
Under the old law, Karzen said an offender could get either straight probation with no jail, two to six years in prison or probation with up to 90 days in county jail.
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The updated law requires that probation must be accompanied by a county jail sentence of at least 90 days and up to 180 days.
Karzen said a judge can also sentence an offender to between 120 days and two years in county jail if the offender wants to participate in a jail alternative program like work release.
"The new statutory scheme still requires courts to consider appropriate alternative sanctions rather than the state penitentiary, which, given the addiction issues often present with repeat DUI offenders, is an important component of changing behavior and avoiding recidivism," Karzen said. "At the same time, the new law accounts for the repeating history of DUI by requiring a significant punishment component in the form of substantial county jail over and above the incarceration generally ordered for a third DUI, which remains a misdemeanor."
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.