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December 28, 2013
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Beginning of new year time for 17 new laws to go into effect

Seventeen new bills in Colorado will take effect on New Year’s Day, and more than half of them have already had a portion of the bill on the books in 2013.

For example, the Colorado Civil Union Act was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on March 21, went into effect May 1 with the remaining portions of the bill effective Wednesday. Senate Bill 13-011 provides same-sex couples with many, but not all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Two bills that have local prime sponsorship are from Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, — House Bill 1091 (heavy duty diesel emissions testing alternative) and House Bill 1240 (penalties for persistent drunk drivers).

Young said 1240, with Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, as the prime co-sponsor, helps to make roads safer in Weld County and throughout the state.

“Any injury or death from this is unacceptable,” Young said of drunken driving. “We keep working to find ways to impact that problem, and hopefully we have come up with some solutions here that are based in data, based in research that’s been done that shows these changes are going to results in less accidents, less fatalities, less injury on our roads.”

The main part of the new bill that should be of interest to Weld residents is that the threshold to be considered a persistent drunk driver will be lowered from 0.17 to 0.15 (blood-alcohol content).

“I know that doesn’t seem like a big change, but data had showed us that there were a significant number of people in that range that we weren’t picking up,” Young said. “Moving people at 0.15 or 0.16 into this persistent drunk driver category was actually going to have a positive impact. We were going to give more people the help they needed and make our roads safer as a result. Data shows us we’re going to actually identify more people that way. The DUI is .08. What you’re talking about here is substantially higher amount of blood alcohol, and that’s why there’s that label of persistent drunk driver.”

Young said if a driver is pulled over for the very first time and his/her blood-alcohol content is 0.15 or higher, that person will be called a persistent drunk driver.

“That’s a term that we’re using. Some people will say people drive many, many times drunk before they’re actually caught, and I think the situation there is if you have that high a blood-alcohol level, we need to intercede in some way to make our roads safer,” Young said.

The other piece of the law is if the offender agrees to go on ignition interlock, then the offender will only have his/her license revoked for one month.

“If you are a persistent drunk driver, if you are registered at 0.15 or higher, and if you agree to go on ignition interlock, you can get your driver’s license back after one month,” Young said.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles website, ignition interlock is a device that is installed on motor vehicles to prohibit individuals from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. It requires the offender’s breath sample before the engine will start and the offender is periodically required to provide breath samples while driving. If the device detects an elevated alcohol concentration level, the vehicle will not start.

The refusal of a chemical test at a traffic stop on or after Wednesday will now result in a persistent drunk driver designation.

“In that situation, you can have your license reinstated in two months as long as you agree to do the ignition interlock,” Young said.

Prior to this new law, the persistent drunk driver label was for those with a BAC at 0.17 or higher.

“What we didn’t have was that a refusal to be tested constitutes being a persistent drunk driver, also,” Young said. “If somebody refused, they just lost their license for a year.”

There are different ignition interlock requirements depending on the DUI offenses.

In Young’s other new bill with prime co-sponsor Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, House Bill 1091 (heavy duty diesel emissions testing alternative), it involves fleets of diesel trucks that are required to have an opacity test.

Young said if a company keeps its fleets in exemplary maintenance, the company can submit those maintenance records to the state of Colorado and it will be exempt from having to do the opacity test.

“A lot of these companies are constantly upgrading their fleets to keep the newer vehicles in service,” Young said. “JBS Swift has their fleets. You’ve got a lot of trucking companies here in the area that I think are going to benefit from this if they’re maintaining their trucks well.”

Young said that according to Eliza Schultz, the legislative liaison for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,

the CDPHE officials and staff have worked diligently and tirelessly to have this program up and running by the implementation date on Wednesday. Reminders have been sent to fleets and trucking associations.

Schultz said individualized fleet assistance is available upon request to CDPHE. This program offers a voluntary alternative, the choice to participate is the truck fleet’s own. The no-action alternative for fleets remains the status quo as the fleets know it today.

Exemplary maintenance is offered as an alternative to opacity testing for qualifying truck/bus fleets for their new technology (less than 10 years old) heavy duty diesel vehicles. These newer diesels are equipped with sophisticated electronics and fuel injection such that when they are properly maintained, these vehicles simply do not smoke. Many, if not most truck fleets already perform a high level of maintenance for profitability reasons, so an exemplary maintenance alternative simply eliminates a regulatory requirement, replacing it with a business practice already in place, Schultz said.

An opacity test takes from 15 to 45 minutes to complete, and exemplary maintenance is a practice already in place in many fleets. Schultz said the time and cost savings in reduced vehicle downtime and related costs in the maintenance shop can be significant, particularly for large fleets.


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My Windsor Now Updated Dec 28, 2013 05:33PM Published Jan 2, 2014 09:14AM Copyright 2014 My Windsor Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.