Colorado bill lessening DUI punishment is a disgrace to the deceased

DWI Enforcement
DWI Enforcement (Photo credit: versageek)

Under a new Colorado State Law, drivers who are caught driving drunk or while intoxicated could see less punishment than those who have been caught in the past.

House Bill 1077 reconstructs the punishment proceedings for those arrested on DUI, quite significantly. The adjustments this bill brings are both unneeded and embarrassing to the State of Colorado.

Under House Bill 1077, drivers pulled over by police are given the opportunity to argue that they were unjustifiably pulled over by law enforcement. If they argue this case successfully, even if they are clearly drunk upon being stopped, their license suspension could drop from a one-year suspension to only two months.

After two months of not having a license, 1077 gives DUI offenders the ability to have a system installed in their car that tests their blood alcohol level prior to vehicle operation.

Long story short; if you get pulled over and you are drunk, the state thinks you should be able to argue that it was not “fair” for the officer to stop you. In that case, I am sure a drunk driver would prefer to have the smallest punishment possible. Therefore, if you want to be back on the road as soon as you can following your DUI, just argue that the officer did not have the right to stop you, and you could be driving again in two short months.

Of course I do not condone drunk driving. There is no time where anyone should feel good about driving drunk. And, although this bill may lessen your punishment, you will still have to carry your car-breathalyzer everywhere you go. I’m sure there is nothing that impresses your crush more than taking them to dinner, and having to blow into a tube before your car starts.

I personally believe this bill is ridiculous. I have never heard of anyone who thought the one-year suspension punishment was too harsh.

I also am sure that those who have lost a loved one and/or friend to someone driving over the legal intoxication limit believe that even the one-year suspension is not sufficient for a person putting lives in jeopardy.

Years ago as a student at Mission Viejo Elementary School in Aurora, Colo., the Cherry Creek School district had us partake in a program called D.A.R.E. The program helped teach us about drug usage and safety in the “adult world.” Part of the “adult world” consists of the dangers of alcohol.

I remember them showing us a video talking about people being killed by intoxicated drivers. In that time, you feel bad for those who have lost someone, but you never really think that you will lose someone yourself.

Unfortunately, that day came for me last year.  In January of 2012, an intoxicated driver killed one of my childhood friends, Shawn Yoho. A driver who was high on marijuana crashed into Shawn’s stopped vehicle. Shawn left us too soon at the young age of 20. I can say, full-heartedly, Shawn was legitimately the kindest person I have ever known. And to think that someone killed him in a completely preventable scenario, it devastates myself, and all of those who were blessed by God to have the opportunity to know him.

Shawn Yoho, 20, of Aurora, CO.
Shawn Yoho, 20, of Aurora, CO.

Sadly, there is nothing I can do to bring Shawn back. But, as a state, we can do our best to honor the memories of those who have lost their lives to intoxicated drivers by not supporting leniency for laws against intoxicated driving.

House Bill 1077 does not affect DUI offenders who have also taken a life. However, it does give off the impression that our state does not believe driving while intoxicated is as serious as it really is.

One of the final sentences on House Bill 1077 was the part that confused me the most. I was trying to find a way to justify the bill. I truly wanted to find something that would make me think this bill was good for the state of Colorado. Needless to say, the final sentence of the bill did the complete opposite for me.

House Bill 1077 reads: “SECTION 2. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”

Lessening the punishment on DUI cases screams to citizens that our state thinks that DUI is not as severe as it is. I was appalled to read “this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”

Managing Editor Dillon Thomas can be reached at news@collegian.com.