A man in Colorado recently received something quite astonishing: his 16th overall DUI-related charge.
And despite holding a number of DUI convictions that extend well into the double digits, Denny Lovern, 57, had never faced a felony for his actions – that is, until his latest incident.
Prosecutors in Arapahoe Country took the unusual step of prosecuting Lovern by seeking a grand jury indictment, one that includes charges of attempted manslaughter and assault after he hit another driver.
“I’ve had a lot to drink. I should not have been driving,” Lovern told authorities, according to a report from the Denver Post.
The reason prosecutors approached the incident through a grand jury was because there was absolutely no other way to charge Lovern with a felony. DUI charges in Colorado cannot be considered felonies under current state law – just misdemeanors.
“By the time someone achieves five, 10, 15 DUI convictions, they have reached that rarified air that puts them in 1 percent of the population of the state, and this is no longer a matter of ‘Hey, should we send him to jail for a year? Let him get out and then pour themselves back into the car to drive recklessly through our community?’ We’re not going to do that anymore,” commented District Attorney George Brauchler on taking the grand jury approach, according to a report from 9News.com.
Colorado is just one of a handful of states including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey and the District of Columbia where a DUI can’t be considered a felony.
Lawmakers in the state have in the past attempted to pass more stringent laws in regards to drunk driving. However, a bill that was approved by the state house in early 2014 failed to receive a vote on the state senate floor in May – something that extremely disappointed anti-drunk driving advocates.
Another effort, meanwhile, is likely to be introduced in the near future and Lovern’s incident will likely just make a case for change that much stronger.