Dec 24, 2013 11:04 AM by Maddie Garrett

DUI Laws Get Tougher, Changes Proposed for Legislature

Colorado drunk driving laws are about to get tougher when it comes to taking a breathalyzer test. It's estimated three in ten drivers who are arrested for DUI refuse the test in Colorado. But now the consequences for refusing the test are about to go up.

Colorado Springs Police report they make about 2,000 DUI arrests in the City every year.

"They always seem to increase around the holiday season, people don't realize how little alcohol it takes to reach the impairment level," said Sgt. Rod Kelly.

Right now, refusing a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test means the driver can lose their license for up to nine months. But those rules are about to change starting January 1, 2014.

"One of the changes they're going to do is if you refuse to take a breath test they will take your license for a couple months, after that you can only get it back if you pay for and put an interlock in your car," said El Paso County District Attorney Dan May.

An interlock system is a breathalyzer machine hooked up to your car, which won't start unless you blow into it and there is no trace of alcohol in your blood stream.

May said those interlock systems can be fairly expensive. Under the new law, a driver who refuses the breath test when arrested, would have to have the interlock machine in their car for a whole year. At about $50 a month with a $50-$60 installation fee, the costs can really add up.

"And on top of that you're still facing the criminal charges for drunk driving and all the penalties that go with that including jail and huge fines," reminded May.

But May also said there's another law being proposed that would really give some teeth to DUI laws in our state.

"Colorado is one of the few states that doesn't have a felony at some point when you have multiple drunk driving charges," he said.

A new bill will be introduced at the beginning of the year, with bipartisan support, that would make four or five DUI's a felony.

"When they start getting four or five they are a lethal weapon on our streets, and we need to start dealing with them differently," said May.

But police remind drivers, these new laws won't be the worst consequences if you drink and drive.

"It's not worth ruining your life or someone else's life because you were involved in an accident that killed somebody," said Sgt. Kelly.

There are several alternatives to getting home safely. Police remind people that taxi's are always a safe bet.

In Colorado Springs, a free service called Designated Driver of Colorado Springs will provide rides, with a suggested $20 tip to volunteer drivers. They can be reached as: 719.650.3450 or on the web at:

Also in Colorado Springs, a program called Free Ride is provided by McDivitt Law Firm. Be sure to say "McDivitt Law Firm is paying for the ride" when using service, only available on New Year's Eve, as well as St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween. They can be reached at: 719-777-7777



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