House Backs ‘DUI’ Plates
By Michelle Dally Johnston
Denver Post Capitol Bureau
April 4 – People convicted of multiple drunken-driving offenses could
be forced to drive with license plates spelling out their transgressions
under a bill given preliminary approval by the state House of
Representatives on Friday.
The bill by Rep. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, increases penalties for
drivers convicted of repeated alcohol-related driving violations.
Hagedorn’s measure would require those who have had multiple
drunken-driving convictions, or who have had their license revoked more
than once, to turn in their license plates or have them replaced with a
special set of plates that identifies the car as having been driven by a
Hagedorn said a key aspect of the bill, HB 1334, is requiring a
$10,000 bond for those defined as repeat offenders.
Too often, he said, drunken-driving offenders continue to drive on
revoked or suspended licenses, thus suffering few consequences of their
Hagedorn’s measure is fueled in part by his own experiences. He had a
well-publicized drinking problem and started a new life of sobriety 18
“For an alcoholic or addict to really come to grips (with their
disease), they have to hit bottom,” he said.
The experience of “spending a night in jail” could do much good in
convincing alcoholics that they need help, Hagedorn added.
The 45-year-old political science instructor said the key to his
legislation was letting the people around the individual with the problem
know that there is trouble that needs to be addressed.
“There would be notice to the owner of the vehicle that they could
become liable. . . . They can get someone to help and work with the
Hagedorn also said the special license plate would be a red flag to
other drivers and law enforcement that the driver of the vehicle may be
driving under the influence or on a revoked license.
Rep. Frana Mace, D-Denver, took exception to what she saw as the
“It’s pretty hard punishment to make a spouse drive around with a “I’m
a drunk’ license plate,” Mace said. “Co-owners of cars are not
But Mace was outvoted as the House passed the bill on a resounding
The issue will be revisited by the House next week.