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Current DUI consequences might not be helping anyone

On top of losing access to driving privileges, the consequences for a drunk driving conviction can range from fines to jail time. However, putting someone behind bars for a DUI might not actually be as effective as it was previously believed to be. Instead, experts are suggesting alternative methods that could not only help make Colorado roads safer but could also keep those convicted of drunk driving out of jail.

A new Colorado law makes most types of repeat drunk driving offenses felonies, but this new harsh tactic might be doing more harm than good. Placing a convicted drunk driving behind bars has not been demonstrated as an effective way to stop that individual from acting similarly in the future. Many repeat drunk driving offenders are believed to be alcoholics who, instead of jail time, desperately need the right care and treatment.

Going to jail increases the likelihood of losing a job, which can fuel an alcoholic to drink more and can then result in possible drunk driving. Essentially, the current system helps fuel an endless cycle in which those in the most need of help receive nothing at all. Advocates believe that a more sensible approach for DUI convictions that would keep defendants out of jail can be achieved. Alternative consequences include ignition interlock systems, treatment for their disease and regular blood-alcohol level checks.

Drunk driving is an understandably serious concern for Colorado drivers, but it is important that consequences accurately match convictions. For repeat DUI offenders, jail time is rarely the best option for their own rehabilitation as well as the safety of other motorists on the road. Until a better system is in place, defendants often choose to begin working on their defense as early on as possible in order to minimize the impact of a potential conviction on their lives.

Source: aurorasentinel.com, "EDITORIAL: Jailing drunken drivers doesn't make Colorado roads any safer", Aug. 11, 2016

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