Are More Coloradans Going to Prison for DUI?

By January 3, 2017Thomas Law Firm


Has the felony DUI law introduced in 2015 led to an increase in prison sentences for drunk drivers?

According to legislative economist Greg Sobetski, it has, despite an overall decrease in the number of prisoners in Colorado. In the last 10 years, Colorado has shut down three prisons and has plans to continue this trend in spite of the slight bump in prisoners caused by the felony DUI law.

Based on Sobetski’s analysis, felony DUI could lead to a bump of nearly 500 prisoners in the next three years. That may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the 20,000 people incarcerated in state prisons in Summer 2016, but it flies in the face of the sharp decline in prison populations over the last few years.

Colorado Felony DUI

In August 2015, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a measure that would make a person’s fourth drunk driving charge a felony, as opposed to the normal misdemeanor, if the three previous DUIs led to convictions. The bill had been in the making for five years but had failed to pass until 2015.

The punishment for a felony DUI is two to six years in prison, if the courts decide that incarceration is the proper course of action for a particular case. Those convicted could also face fines between $2,000 and $500,000. Defendants will face three years of mandatory parole as well.

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