An Aspen, Colorado woman pleaded guilty to felony drunk driving in December 2016 for an arrest in August of the same year. She will face between two and six years in prison when a sentence is handed down in January 2017. Karen Sahr, 58, has been convicted four times in Pitkin County for drunk driving. Per newspaper articles found during the investigation, up to five DUI convictions are part of Sahr’s past.
Sahr’s attorney, Richard Nedlin, asked a judge not to sentence his client until January so she could attend in-patient treatment in Minnesota. Her latest arrested came after witnesses called the police to report seeing her car swerving on East Hyman Avenue; she later hit a parked car in the area. Before this arrest, she’d rear-ended a Chevrolet Tahoe belonging to the Pitkin County Sherriff’s Office on Highway 82 in March 2014.
In August 2015, legislators changed Colorado state law to charge those with four or more DUI arrests with a felony. Sahr’s last conviction for DUI occurred before the changes to the law went into effect, this possible conviction could lead to felony driving under the influence charges and serious jail time.
Colorado’s felony DUI became law on August 5, 2015. Under the law, driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) are considered misdemeanors. Under Colorado’s new law, a fourth conviction or combination of the above convictions results in a Class 4 Felony charge. Those offenses must all occur separately and result in conviction for the new law to take effect during a case. Those offenses also count if they take place anywhere in the United States, including US territories.
When looking at whether a fourth DUI charge turns into a felony in Colorado, a suspect’s previous arrest history must be combed through. A previous offense under the CO law only counts if it led to conviction. If the case was dismissed or was deferred, it would not count towards the felony tally during a case. Also, if a suspect was found not guilty, it would not count. Colorado is one of several states trying to up the ante against DUI convictions to help prevent them from occurring.