COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado Springs man is facing his 9th DUI conviction and now he may finally face prison time thanks to a new law.
Previously, drunk drivers could be charged only with misdemeanors, meaning they could remain free even after multiple DUIs. But under the new Colorado law, four or more DUI convictions could land someone in prison.
According to an arrest affidavit, William Nance told a deputy he hadn’t been drinking, but the deputy in Colorado Springs said he smelled alcohol, and said Nance had a case of beer in his car. The question now is, will the new felony DUI law keep drunks off the road?
On Monday Nance, 53, stood before a judge accused of DUI for the 14th time and convicted on eight.
“Sometimes people need to be locked up to keep from hurting others,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said. “These guys seem to me to fit that bill.”
The new felony DUI law means Nance could spend two to six years in prison. But will the tougher law keep DUI offenders from offending again? Not likely, says Denver DUI attorney Jay Tifticfkjian.
“It’s not going to make our roads any safer,” Tifticfkjian said.
“You know this how?” asked CBS4’s Howard Nathan.
“From the 45 other states that have a law like this,” Tifticfkjian replied.
“There’s no decrease in fatality rates?” Nathan asked.
“No decrease in fatality rates,” Tifticfkjian replied.
The Legislature budgeted well over $13 million to house new felony DUI inmates in the next three years. Tiftickjian says the money would be better spent revamping Colorado’s antiquated addiction program.
“If we put our resources into the great majority of these cases, we can prevent a lot more multiple offenders in the future,” he said. “That’s what’s going to make our roads safer.”
But district attorneys and prosecutors argue “enough already” — actions must have consequences.
“And not try to dismiss this as, ‘Well, it’s not their fault because they have an addiction, and therefore they need more lollipops and coloring books,'” Brauchler said. “The conduct that these people engage in is life-threatening every single time they engage in it. And that’s how this has to be viewed.”
Brauchler says he wants more mandatory sentencing. Tiftickjian says only a small fraction of his clients are multiple repeat offenders.
Nance is slated to make another court appearance Wednesday.