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Drunk driving deaths in Colorado continuing to climb -- even after 2015 passage of felony DUI law

The measure was designed to crack down on people who repeatedly drive drunk. Some still avoid convictions altogether.

DENVER — A little girl was seriously hurt and her mother was killed when a chronic drunk driver crossed the center line on Interstate 70 and drove right into their car last Christmas Eve.

A recent college graduate’s life ended while sitting at a stoplight on her way home from church when another chronic drunken driver slammed his truck into the back of her brand new car.

The 9Wants to Know investigation Still Drinking Still Driving exposes loopholes in a 2015 state law designed to put chronic drunk drivers in prison hoping to stem the tide of drunk driving deaths.

That law was designed to crack down on repeat drunken drivers but it hasn’t stemmed one of the state’s grimmest statistics: The number of people who die each year in alcohol-related crashes has risen five of the past six years.

Passed in 2015, the law slapped anyone with three prior DUI convictions with a felony.

An exhaustive examination of every single one of the 2,346 felony DUI cases that had been adjudicated in the state through 2018 and the heart-wrenching stories of people whose lives were shattered by drunk drivers revealed a that what was promised and what was delivered were two different things.

For, example, barely a quarter of the people convicted of a felony DUI went to prison. Nearly 200 people figured out how to walk away without a conviction – including one man who’d already killed someone driving drunk. In case after case, that law was too late to do anything about drivers who already had three DUIs – or more – and then killed someone the next time, like the young woman sitting at a stoplight on her way home from church or the mother of four taking her daughter home after a visit to the doctor on Christmas Eve. 

See all of our previous coverage below: 

Is Colorado's felony DUI law working? The struggle to stop repeat offenders from driving drunk

Repeat drunk driver given multiple second chances before crash killed woman headed home from church 

Four-time drunken driver caused Christmas Eve crash that shattered a family 

Hundreds of repeat drunk drivers still avoid prison despite felony DUI law 

A fatal drunk driving crash, 18 years in prison, then 3 more DUIs -- and a plea deal 

More stories from 9NEWS | Crime and Investigations 

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