On May 1, 2017, the Colorado legislature passed a bill requiring minimum jail terms for individuals convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI/DWAI offense. The bill takes effect in August 2017.
What the bill says:
Individuals convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI/DWAI offense in Colorado and sentenced to felony probation are now required to serve a minimum jail term. The minimum county jail term is 90 days and the maximum county jail term is 180 days. If an alternative jail sentence is imposed – which allows the individual to leave the jail for employment, education, or medical treatment – then the minimum term is 120 days and the maximum term is two years. In either case, any time served in jail prior to sentencing is applied as credit against the jail term imposed at sentencing.
What the bill does:
Prior to this legislation, the minimum jail term as part of a sentence to felony probation for a fourth or subsequent DUI/DWAI offense was no jail, and the maximum jail term was 90 days straight jail. When the legislation takes effect, 90 days will be the minimum straight jail term. This means that jail sentences in these cases will probably increase on average.
The bill also lays out the issues a court must consider when deciding whether to sentence an individual convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI/DWAI to either probation or prison. A court must take into account the facts and circumstances of the case and the individual’s willingness to engage in treatment. Further, the court must consider whether all rehabilitative and punitive options short of prison have been attempted; however, a court can find that these options appear unlikely to succeed or would put the public at risk. After considering these factors, a court will impose a sentence. If probation is imposed, then the minimum and maximum jail range created by the bill takes effect. If prison is imposed, the term is two to six years in the department of corrections or community corrections.
What about 1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI convictions:
It is important to remember that a DUI/DWAI conviction becomes a felony when an individual has been convicted of DUI/DWAI on three or more separate occasions. A first, second, or third conviction for DUI/DWAI is a misdemeanor with a separate set of sentencing rules that are not impacted by the legislation.