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DA Blames Loophole In DUI Law For Lenient Sentences

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is blaming a loophole in Colorado law for felony DUI convictions that result in no jail time.

When Doyle Carmack was pulled over in March 2016 in Arapahoe County, his blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit.

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Doyle Carmack (credit: CBS)

He had five previous drunk driving convictions and pleaded guilty to a felony that carried up to six years in prison.

The judge sentenced him to probation.

"He never spent a single night in jail on his sixth DUI," said Brauchler.

The state Legislature passed a felony DUI measure two years ago. But since then, 10 percent of those sentenced received no time behind bars. Nearly 40 percent received work release or community corrections.

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(credit: CBS)

"Where's the justice in that. How does that make any sense?" said Executive Director of MADD Fran Lanzer.

He worked with hundreds of DUI crash survivors to pass the law that made a fourth DUI a felony but didn't mandate jail time.

"It wasn't conceived that anybody would take advantage of that law and create a loophole like this," said Rep. Lori Saine, a Republican representing Weld County.

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Rep. Lori Saine and Rep. Mike Foote at the state Capitol (credit: CBS)

Saine and Rep. Mike Foote, a Democrat representing Boulder, plan to fix what they call the "fourth DUI discount." Right now, Colorado law mandates that a third DUI carries a minimum 60-day sentence.

"The sentencing should make sense, it should be rational," said Foote.

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An image from a police checkpoint in 2013 (credit: CBS)

"DUIs happen every time of the day, every day of the week and every road in this jurisdiction in this state. And if we can't start getting people's attention by giving them opportunities at rehab and treatment then we ought to be warehousing them and locking them up so they don't pose a risk to our families," said Brauchler.

Saine and Foote will introduce a bill on Wednesday that will require anyone convicted of a fourth DUI to spend at least 90 days in jail.

Those who have been sentenced to jail so far have spent an average of 78 days in jail.

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