New Colorado laws take hold this week: New DUI sentencing guidelines, protections for DV victims

DENVER – More than 100 new laws made by the state Legislature earlier this year will take effect on Wednesday, when the 90-day period for a petition on the bills ends.

Among them are new laws that will impose mandatory jail time for anyone convicted of multiple felony DUIs, one that will allow people to break into hot cars to save people or animals without repercussions, and one that will force convicted stalkers and domestic violence offenders to be held without bail before they are sentenced.

New DUI sentencing guidelines take hold

The new DUI law will require anyone convicted of felony DUI to serve between 90 and 180 days in jail if they are granted probation for their sentence. People sentenced to work release will have to serve between 120 days and 2 years in jail.

The law came to pass this session after years of work to address what many say are lenient sentencing guidelines in Colorado. Two years ago, the Legislature made it a felony to have a fourth or subsequent DUI, which carries a sentence of between 2 and 6 years.

Under the new law that takes effect Wednesday, those convicted will also have to serve between 48 and 120 hours of public service time.

Protections for hot car Good Samaritans

Also taking effect Wednesday is a new law that will protect people who break into hot cars to rescue animals and people who are at risk of heat exposure and heat stroke.

The new law protecting Good Samaritans sailed through the Legislature, garnering only four “no” votes total in the House and Senate before Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill in April.

Once the law goes into effect, there will be a checklist people have to fulfill in order to not be charged as well:

  • The vehicle in question can’t be a law enforcement vehicle.
  • An at-risk person or non-livestock animal has to be in the car, and the Good Samaritan must believe that person or animal is “in imminent danger of death or suffering serious bodily injury.
  • The vehicle must be locked.
  • The Good Samaritan must make a “reasonable effort” to find the vehicle’s owner and document the vehicle’s characteristics.
  • The Good Samaritan must contact a law enforcement, fire, or animal control agency before they enter the vehicle.
  • The Good Samaritan must not interfere with the duties or direction of a law enforcement agent or first responder.
  • The Good Samaritan can’t use “more force than he or she believes is reasonably necessary.”
  • The Good Samaritan must remain with the at-risk person or animal and near the vehicle until law enforcement or first responders arrive.
  • If the Good Samaritan can’t stay at the scene until first responders or law enforcement arrive, they have to let the responders know and leave their contact information with the vehicle.

The law does not apply to livestock, the term of which the law covers: cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep, poultry, swine, llamas and goats.

Before the law takes hold, people face charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass or criminal tampering involving property if a district attorney decides to pursue charges in a hot-car break-in.

New protections for stalking, DV victims

Another new law taking hold Wednesday is the No Bail for Stalking and Domestic Violence Offenders Act, which will force people convicted of felony stalking or habitual domestic violence to be held without bail while they await sentencing.

The law came to be after a Colorado Springs woman was allegedly killed by an ex-boyfriend who had already been convicted of stalking her.

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