With Colorado's concern over those who get behind the wheel after having a few drinks grows, so too does the legislatures. That is why there may soon be harsher penalties coming into effect for those who choose to drink and drive as Colorado Rocky first baseman Todd Helton recently did.

Current Colorado law stipulates that a DUI is only a misdemeanor, no matter how many you have had in the past. Your first time is a misdemeanor as is your tenth time. In most states, repeat offenders end up with felony convictions. However, Colorado is one of only five states where that is not the case.

The newly proposed bill passed its first committee this week. The bill stipulates that three DUI or DWAI convictions within a seven year period would constitute a felony. Also, four convictions within a lifetime would carry the same consequences. The law is being touted as a way for law enforcement agencies to better keep track of repeat offenders as there currently is no uniform system for tracking that within Colorado.

According to the Colorado State Patrol, some offenders out there are driving around with 20 or more previous DUI or DWAI convictions. It is estimated that 40 percent of crashes associated with a DUI or DWAI driver result in a fatality. Law enforcement and the legislature want to ensure that both DUI and DWAI offenses are taken more seriously throughout Colorado.

Since there is a greater push for DUI reform, if you have been convicted of a DUI or DWAI, please immediately contact a criminal defense attorney prior to making any statements. Their advocacy for your rights and ability to protect you free of prior incriminating statements can help ensure that your best interests are protected throughout the process.

Source: kktv.com, "Harsher Penalties Could Be ON The Way For DUI Offenders," Feb. 22, 2013