Most Northern Colorado felony DUI offenders avoid prison: Pablo Pena jumped behind the wheel of his ex-girlfriend’s Chevy Impala and sped away from pump No. 2 at a Fort Collins-area gas station, dragging the woman across the pavement after she became caught on the car.She was unable to enter the vehicle and struggled to break free before going to the ground and hitting her head. She told police that she and Pena had been arguing over whether the car was safe enough to drive to Greeley. It was about 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday in January.Juan Pena (Photo: Larimer County Sheriff’s Office)When law enforcement caught up to Pena 30 minutes later in Eaton, he reeked of alcohol. His eyes were bloodshot. A half-empty bottle of Corona sat in a nearby cup holder.The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy leading the case soon discovered 11 driving under the influence charges on Pena’s criminal record — he admitted to having seven convictions out of New Mexico alone, court records show.Pena was charged with a Class 4 felony under Colorado’s recently modified DUI law that makes prison a possibility for habitual drunken drivers. Thirty-five days later, Eighth Judicial District Judge Gregory Lammons sentenced Pena to the maximum penalty of six years in prison.Pena’s is the first and only of 71 resolved felony DUI cases in Larimer County to result in the maximum possible prison sentence since Colorado’s felony DUI law took effect Aug. 5, 2015, according to a Coloradoan review of sentencing records.His case is an outlier in a county where 85 percent of habitual drunken drivers convicted under the new law avoid prison altogether.While 48 cases resulted in a sentence involving some form of incarceration, most habitual offenders served jail sentences of less than six months. Only 10 felony DUI cases prosecuted in Larimer County ended with an offender spending time in prison.
Some legislators want to put a stop to this.