Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced last week he would like to see state lawmakers pass legislation with more severe penalties for drunk and drugged driving offenses, including a new felony DUI law.
Current Colorado law makes DUI offenses a misdemeanor charge, unless a person was injured as a result of the offense. House Bill 15-1043 would make it a felony to be charged with three DUIs within seven years, according to ABC 7News in Denver.
This means drivers who are arrested for a third DUI within a seven-year period automatically would face felony DUI charges. Additionally, the upgraded charges would apply if someone is caught driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle, injures a person or damages property.
In Ohio, DUI laws already are strict, and drivers who find themselves facing charges for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated can expect harsh consequences. A felony drunk or drugged driving charge is the consequence of either having multiple DUI convictions on your record, or if you were in an accident where there was serious bodily injury or death.
A felony charge for a DUI offense in Ohio likely would be applied if the defendant has been convicted of three or more DUIs within a six-year period. This offense is considered a fourth-degree felony, which could include up to 18 months in prison.
Drivers in Ohio also could face felony DUI charges if they cause serious bodily injury to a person, which would be a felony of the third-degree. Penalties associated with this charge would be more severe and could include up to five years in prison.
If a person kills another while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is considered aggravated vehicular homicide. This is a first-degree felony, the most severe of all felony charges. It could mean up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
If the Colorado house bill is approved, drivers in the Centennial State who leave the scene of an accident or have a blood alcohol content of more than 0.15 also could face felony DUI charges. The level of alcohol would be considered far greater than the legal limit, which is 0.08.
Ohio drivers who are accused of leaving the scene, also known as a hit and run, could face felony charges, depending on the circumstances of the incident. If a person was injured or killed and an intoxicated driver left the scene, he or she could face severe felony penalties.
Additionally, drivers in Ohio who have a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.17 could face steeper charges. Unlike the Colorado legislation, the offense in Ohio is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, rather than a felony.
However, there still are steep consequences for blowing such a high level blood alcohol concentration. If it is a person’s first offense, he or she must wait at least 14 days before getting his or her driving privileges reinstated and may be required to have yellow plates or an immobilizing device added to the vehicle.
The best way to avoid facing charges for a DUI no matter the state is to make smart decisions. If you plan to imbibe, designate a driver who can get you and others home safely. The risk of drinking and driving is not worth the potential harm to yourself and others.