New Law Means Hard Time for Chronic DUI Offenders
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have been on high alert when it comes to Mesa County, Colorado judges being consistent with sentencing Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders, but legal professionals have also noticed another pattern – more aggressive approaches from prosecutors. It has been noted that the district attorney’s office for the county has asked for prison time for offenders in a large majority of felony DUI cases. It is believed that this aggressive approach is due to the idea that an individual with three or more previous convictions is, by nature, dangerous on the road.
The district attorney’s office is using this aggressive approach believing that chronic offenders have not been motivated to change their behavior due to their first three convictions, so what will make their fourth conviction any different? Many defense attorneys believe that the prosecution asking for prison time should be a last resort. The new statute demonstrates that judges need to consider several factors that include the offender’s willingness to accept treatment when determining sentencing and that prison time should only be considered when all other sanctions have been exhausted.
There has been some push and pull between defense attorneys and the district attorney’s office in Mesa County. Members of the district attorney’s office have said that some chronic DUI offenders have shown long periods of sobriety between convictions – in these felony cases, per the office, prosecutors are open to the idea of community-based treatment to ensure public safety. Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle stated that the professionals in the office are starting to discuss plea agreements for felony DUI cases, working to find their own consistency with these cases.
Tuttle also stated that not all felony DUI cases and DUI offenders are created equal. Because of this, the court system, prosecutors, and defense attorneys alike are working toward and getting used to a consistent range of sentences for these individuals. While prosecutors in Mesa County are fine-tuning their approach, the law itself is still becoming more aggressive toward chronic offenders. The consequences for repeat Colorado DUI convictions are harsher now than they were two years ago, and this is, according to Tuttle, something individuals should be aware of.
If you or someone you know is facing a felony DUI charge, it is important to seek the legal help of a knowledgeable DUI attorney. These professionals can evaluate the case, review the facts, defend their client in court, and work toward a positive outcome for all parties.