Mandy Connell Show, George Brauchler, January 12, 2015

Station:   KHOW, 630 AM

Show:      Mandy Connell Show

Guests:    Brauchler


Date:       January 12, 2015

Topics:    Representative Lori Saine, Felony Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Bill, First Offense, Jail Time, Plea Deals, Aurora Theater Shooting Trial,

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HOST MANDY CONNELL:  […] We’re having a discussion about the felony DUI bill being proposed by Representative Lori Saine, and we figured we check with someone who is at the forefront of this.  DA George Brauchler joins me this morning.  Uh, good morning, first of all, Mr. Brauchler.  I appreciate you making the time for us.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, GEORGE BRAUCHLER:  Oh, Mandy, thanks for having me on. This is such an important issue for Coloradans.

CONNELL:  Tell me, from your experience as a prosecutor, what are some of the things people should know about this, and why  this is so important.

BRAUCHLER:  Well, you’ve touched— I’ve been listening to you for a while now, and you’ve touched on this a few different days.  But you’ve done a very good job of laying out where we’re out, and that is we are unique in the country in that we’ve set up a system where you can violate the system in the exact same way, time in and time out, and the penalties don’t ever get worse or change for you.  And that’s unique.  We don’t really have any other laws that are quite like that. There’s usually some other type of intervention that takes place, or enhancement of penalties. You know, for the 18th Judicial District, we’re I’m the DA — and that’s four huge counties:  all of Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln.   This jurisdiction has had the number one amount of DUIs for about the last decade.  It is a big deal out here.  We’re not — even Denver doesn’t have as many, or El Paso County.  And the problem that we’re seeing here is that you’ve got guys — and we had one recently, that came in on his twentieth DUI arrest, and sixteenth conviction.  [The] guy had so many DUIs that he was getting twofers from past prosecutors, who were like, “Well, plead to one and I’ll dump the other.”

CONNELL:  [gasps]

BRAUCHLER:  And, uh, obviously the system that’s in place does not work.  And for those people out there who are opposed to Representative Saine’s fine bill, which are saying, “We really ought to be investing more in rehabilitation and addressing the alcohol issue,”  that’s nonsense!  This is not an issue —. Yeah, go ahead.

CONNELL:  I — I read that last year.  And i don’t remember which elected official said it, but the implication was, is that somehow these people are not given any opportunities to take advantage of treatment programs.  And I thought to myself, “That’s insane!”  I mean, tell me, if you have a first time DUI offender, what does your office — I mean, how does the procedure work? What opportunities are afforded to the offender to get treatment or get help?  I mean, how does that all happen?

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah, [inaudible] and you’ve touched upon this, too.  The first time offender — and I’m sorry to say this, but I want to be candid with Colorado.  Nobody is going to jail on their first DUI offense.  I mean, you have to take a swing at the officer or be near death, in terms of a BAC, to warrant any true scrutiny about putting you in the county jail. What happens is, you come in, depending on your BAC, whether or not there was a non-injury accident, your attitude and behavior with the police, you’re going to get some kind of a plea offer.  And the result of that is you’re going to be convicted of a DWAI, or a DUI, and you’re going to be sentenced to some sort of alcohol treatment, education, community service.  There’ll be some fines and fees and stuff like that.  And you’re going to be given exactly what you and the other callers who are somewhat concerned about making the penalties worse — you’re going to be given that second chance to make amends.  The second time you offend, even in this jurisdiction, the likelihood that you go to jail is still pretty small.  We’re in a place where you have to get to that rarefied air of 3 or more DUIs before you really start to taste the loss of freedom.  And even then, it tends to not make as much of a big a difference as you think, because people don’t drive drunk and get caught each of the same times.  You know what I mean?

CONNELL:  Right.

BRAUCHLER:  Most people are driving drunk a jillion times before they see close encounters in their rearview mirror, and they’re getting popped for that DUI.  So, this is a bill that says if you’re going to drive drunk, which it can amount to shooting a gun off above a crowd of people. Now, when Marvin — I think that’s his name — called in and said, “Wow, these people aren’t even hurting people,”  that’s just by the grace of God!  That’s like shooting a gun in the air, bullet comes down in between two people, and you say, “See? Not that big a deal.  No one got hit.”

CONNELL:  Right.   Yeah, exactly! Oh, go ahead.

BRAUCHLER:  Oh, I was just going to say, I — we need to join the other 45 states in this endeavor to try to either discourage people from driving drunk repeatedly, or, — and I’m okay with this — we just take you off the streets.  Because there’s one thing you and I know for sure, Mandy, and that is you can’t drive drunk when you’re in prison.

CONNELL:  And that’s the point I was making to our previous caller, is, you know, the only way to ensure —.  Because it is also my understanding, a lot of these guys with multiple DUIs, I’m guessing they are driving without insurance. I’m guessing they’re probably driving without a driver’s license.

BRAUCHLER:  No insurance, no license, I mean, these things are irrelevant to these people.  These are people who have made a lifestyle decision that their interest in getting drunk, and driving to and from wherever they’re getting drunk, supersedes any interest in public safety, the laws, limitations on their freedom.  They don’t care!

CONNELL:  Yeah. Well, I’m guessing that you have — Lori Saine’s bill has your full support.

BRAUCHLER:  Oh, my gosh, yeah!  If I can figure out a way to step out of this big trial we’re about to start next week, and run up there and testify for it I’m going to do it!  I’ll do it with a megaphone.

CONNELL:  Yeah. Well, I’m glad you brought that up, because I was about to.  Uh, does it look like the James Holmes trial is actually going to start?

BRAUCHLER:  We are sure acting like it is.  I mean, it’s a week from tomorrow, and you know, 9,000 juror summons went out the door last month.  And, um, these people are going to start showing up.  I think it would take a lot at this point for the judge to suspend the movement that we’re headed in.  So, I mean, I’m anxious to get it going, just to get some closure for the community and for the victims in this case and just make sure that we give everybody involved a fair trial.

CONNELL:  Uh, and what kind— and I should know this, and I don’t, and I’m embarrassed for myself right now.  What kind of access does the pubic have to the trial?

BRAUCHLER:  You know, it’s going to be televised.  The Court authorized — there’s a fixed camera in the courtroom — it’s a Hi-Def camera —that was used for closed-circuit video for victims in overflow courtrooms in other areas in the building.  And the Court has granted the media’s request to tap into that closed-circuit feed and they’re going to be able to televise pretty much the whole thing, start to stop.

CONNELL:  Uh, and I’m guessing you feel pretty good about the preparation that your office has done.

BRAUCHLER:  Well, this is where we get into an area, Mandy, where I can’t really comment on anything that might prejudice the case against the defendant.  And I really — I don’t want to do that.  All I can tell you is, you know, we’ve got good people working in this office.  They are dedicated on every single case to get justice.  And this one is no different.

CONNELL:  Absolutely.  DA George Brauchler, obviously, we’re going to be watching that entire thing very, very, very closely.  And I hope you can come back and visit with us again real soon.

BRAUCHLER:  Love to!  Love to, anytime.  Thank you and thank Greg, too.

CONNELL:  No problem!  Thank you, sir.  And, uh, have a great day!  That’s going to be —.  I didn’t realize it’s going to be televized.  I should have already known that.  And I apologize for not knowing that.  I got so tired about hearing about all the delays —.