Colorado’s Habitual DUI Offenders Will Face Tougher Penalties

Photo: Hickenlooper Signs Repeat DUI Offender Bill (Vela)
Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a bill into law Monday, June 1, 2015, in Wheat Ridge creating tough new penalties for repeat drunken driving offenders.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law on Monday that makes a fourth DUI a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000. The law takes effect Aug. 5.

Alma Sanchez said the felony DUI bill will provide her some solace. The Denver mother lost her 17-year-old cousin when he was killed by a drunken driver in Aurora last year.

"Out of nowhere, a drunk driver will devastate your life," she said at Monday's ceremony in Wheat Ridge.

Colorado has been among five states where habitual drunken drivers face only misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail regardless of how many convictions they have.

The proposal has repeatedly failed in recent years because of concerns about increased costs to courts and prisons but lawmakers were able to pass it last month.

The bill signing ceremony was held at a manufacturer of professional breath alcohol testers, Lifeloc Technologies, in Wheat Ridge.