GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The law that will create a felony charge for a fourth drunk driving offense takes effect Wednesday. After years of debate, Colorado will join the majority of the nation with toughened laws for habitual drunk drivers.
"If someone has prior convictions, and if they're convicted of a fourth or more offense for a DUI or DWAI, they may be subject to fines and imprisonment," said Dan Chermock with the Colorado State Patrol.
Fines that can range anywhere from $2,000- $500,000. As for the amount of time impaired drivers may face in prison after getting a type 4 felony – that can be anywhere from two to six years.
"What this means for the drivers on our roadways is that we're trying to make our roadways safer. We're sick and tired of having people lose their lives for no reason – for having these people that have multiple DUI convictions that keep doing it," said Chermock.
Ellie Phipps, from Grand Junction, was hit by a six-time DUI offender while she was on her way to the gym one Saturday morning four years ago. After recovering from an accident that nearly took her life, Phipps has worked tirelessly to get stricter laws in our state.
"I'm thrilled. I'm just really pleased it's going to go into effect, but I think the work has just begun. I think we have more things that we need to work towards in the future to continue to strengthen the drunk driving laws, and high driving – that's another big issue," said Phipps.
Phipps says it's a step in the right direction – but for something that is the difference between life and death – she would like to see the laws become even tougher.
Phipps says she’s working with the nonprofit organization, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to push for stricter laws in the next legislative session. One of the additions Phipps would like to see in the law is to make it an automatic felony if someone is driving impaired with a minor.