Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter today signed five criminal justice bills into law, including measures to preserve DNA evidence, enhance law enforcement's ability to track sex offenders in Colorado, and increase penalties for drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
"One of our basic obligations in government is to protect the public," Gov. Ritter said. "The package of bills I'm signing today will enhance our ability to do just that."
House Bill 1194 (Judd/Veiga) was supported by the Colorado Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It increases the use of ignition locking and breathalyzer devices, so that they are mandatory for first-time offenders and not just for repeat offenders.
HB 1377 (King/Penry) requires judges to consider bail of up to $50,000 when a drunken driving suspect flees arrest. It stems from a 2007 case in which Mesa State College students Jake Brock of Eagle, and Jennifer Kois of Brighton were killed on Interstate 70 in Mesa County.
HB 1397 (Jahn & King/Kopp & Gordon) establishes new requirements for the preservation of DNA evidence in criminal cases. Under the new law, for convictions of the most serious crimes – class 1 felonies and sex offenses with lifetime supervision – evidence that may contain DNA will be preserved for the life of the defendant. The law also contains provisions for preserving or disposing of DNA evidence in less serious crimes as well. The bill also requires that peace officers be trained in proper DNA collection and retention practices. The bill further establishes a working group to monitor the enactment of these new procedures and recommend future legislation if necessary.
SB 237 (Bacon/T. Carroll) closes a loophole in the state's sex offender registry that allows convicted sex offenders from other states to move to Colorado without registering. It requires a convicted sex offender from any state to register in Colorado if they move here.
SB 239 (Bacon/Jahn) raises leaving the scene of a hit and run accident from a Class 4 felony to a Class 3 felony.