Proponents of a bill that calls for a person's third DUI charge to be a felony say it would

keep the community safer and ease the burden on county jails, but other officials are
concerned that stiffer penalties alone aren't an effective solution to the problem.
District 53 Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, has introduced the measure, House Bill 1043,
and expects bipartisan support for it in both the House and the Senate at the Colorado
General Assembly.
As introduced, the bill's sponsors include members of both major parties. Saine's primary
co-sponsor in the House is Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver. If the bill clears the House and
advances to the Senate, its primary sponsors are to be Republican Sen. John Cooke, a
former Weld County sheriff, and Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver.
The bill calls for felony charges from a third driving-under-the-influence arrest within
seven years and any time frame for a fourth arrest. It also extends the time a convicted
drunk driver must have an interlock device installed on their vehicle.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the past, but nothing has been enacted in to
law. A version of the same bill died in Senate committee last year.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle supports the proposed legislation, in part, because of
the burden currently imposed on county jails who are tasked with housing DUI offenders,
many of whom are serving lengthy sentences.
Pelle said the Boulder County Jail offers alcohol and substance abuse counseling but that
many jails throughout the state don't have the resources needed, so offenders' substance
abuse issues are left unaddressed while they are incarcerated.
He said that the proposed law would shift some of the responsibility for dealing with DUI
offenders to the state, which would lessen costs incurred by counties and ease
overcrowding at jails.
Pelle said people with multiple DUIs on their record are not likely to quit drinking and
driving and that they present a higher risk to the community than "just about any other
"Statistically, by the time someone is arrested for their third DUI, they have driven drunk
so many times that they are an incredible risk to the community," he said.
District 12 Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, said concerns about previous incarnations of
the bill included the hefty price tag associated with creating a felony charge, estimated at
tens of millions of dollars per year.
"You have to make the policy decision on whether you're going to take money away from
things like education and mental health and put it toward corrections," he said. "The

discussion that people have had is they're not willing to take a 20 to 30 million dollar hit
to education to do a DUI felony."
Foote works as a Boulder County Deputy District Attorney when the state assembly is
not in session and said he supports the concept of the bill. He voted for a similar version
last year.
He added that stiffer penalties — while they could improve public safety — should not
be the end of the conversation with regard to how the DUI problem should be handled.
"A program that focuses on only one aspect is not going to work very well," he said. "A
program that only focuses on incarceration without any treatment, that's not going to be
as successful as one that has both."
Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler said DUI is a legitimate problem, one LPD
pays attention to, but added that enacting more laws and stiffer penalties is "too simplistic
and too reductionist."
"I think it's more of a response to our need to take action and look like problem solvers
rather than finding a sustainable solution to complex social issues," he said.
He said stiffening penalties has little to no effect on recidivism but added that sometimes
incarceration is the only option.
Butler pointed to an LPD study that examined 234 people who had been arrested on
felony burglary, car break-ins and vandalism. The study showed that, on average, they
had already been arrested nine times.
"We don't live our lives that way," he said. "We don't take our car to a mechanic nine
times hoping on the 10th time they get it right. We don't do that, But in the criminal
justice system, we tend to have this revolving door."
Butler wants to see more community involvement outside of the criminal justice system
in identifying social problems and eventually coming up with solutions to them that don't
necessarily involve a bigger criminal justice system and the costs associated with it.
"We have a lot of social capital that we have yet to tap into," he said. "Are there solutions
that can be found in these conversations that are more sustainable and durable? I'd like to
think there is."