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Prosecutors working first felony DUI cases

The law making a fourth DUI a felony has been in effect in Colorado for less than a month and already nearly two dozen people face felony DUI charges along the Front Range. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 08/31/15. KUSA

KUSA – The law making a fourth DUI a felony has been in effect in Colorado for less than a month and already nearly two dozen people face felony DUI charges along the Front Range.

“It’s been busy here in Adams and Broomfield counties,” District Attorney Dave Young said. “It’s not certainly something we’re proud of, but I think Adams and Broomfield counties historically had a large number of DUI[s].”

Young’s jurisdictions have had 11 felony DUI arrests since the law went into effect on Aug. 5.

This means each of these 11 people have had at least three prior drunk driving convictions before they were arrested for drunk driving again.

“When I saw the numbers, I thought they were surprisingly large, unfortunately,” Young said. “I’m also aware that our agencies are very intuned in charging these when they can. We have a lot of people who choose to drink and drive in Adams and Broomfield counties, we’re going to prosecute those people accordingly.”

Arapahoe and Douglas counties have arrested seven people who have three or more drunk driving convictions since Aug. 5. Denver has two cases. Jefferson County has one.

The Jefferson County case involves the arrest of Evaristo Moreno-Gutierres, 68, who was speeding through a school zone and suspected of being drunk in the afternoon. His license was suspended too.

In Denver, police say Richard Castroman had four previous drunk driving convictions and got behind the wheel without a license. So did Maurice Daniels, according to court records. Daniels also has five DUI’s to his name.

“The big deal is when you have these repeat offenders out on the road, sometimes there is only one way to assure they’re not going to drink and drive, and that’s incarceration,” Young said. “Now we have up to six years [in prison] where we can take them out of the public and keep the public safe, keep them off the roads, more importantly … Before Aug. 5, we only could get that one year sentence [in jail].”

Each judge will decide how much prison time to use for each repeat offender.

“Nobody looks at punishment as a deterrent until they’re already in the situation,” DUI Attorney Jay Tiftickjian said.

Tiftickjian has been against this law as it was making its way through the legislature.

He says habitual drunk drivers need treatment — not prison.

“I’m not surprised by it at all with those numbers. I would be surprised in a year or two from now, if we’ve seen our roads get a lot safer,” he said.

The felony DUI law will likely get more attention over the long Labor Day holiday weekend – a time when more people typically drink and drive.