Third DUI should count as a felony
By The Denver Post Editorial Board
Colorado is among a handful of states that still doesn't have a "felony driving while intoxicated" law on the books.
Drunks can be caught driving five, six times or more and still face only misdemeanor charges.
It's time Colorado lawmakers address this deficiency.
State Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, is trying once again to convince his peers at the Capitol to make this important change to the state's criminal statutes, and we hope he is successful this time.
This year's bill would make it a class 4 felony for a third DUI within seven years, or four in a lifetime. The change is a good idea for several reasons.
First, a felony charge means a prison sentence is a possibility. And prisons offer more DUI treatment options than jails, said Waller, a former prosecutor.
Second, those who receive a probationary sentence would have an incentive to complete it so they would not be sent to prison.
Also, the threat of a felony record could act as a deterrent.
And lastly, for those who are determined to keep driving while intoxicated, a prison term will at least keep them off the road for the time in which they are incarcerated.
Waller has modified this year's bill to alleviate objections raised about last year's version of the bill.
The state's sentencing laws are complex, to say the least, and they include different classifications of crimes.