Do state law changes affect the Vail Valley? |

Do state law changes affect the Vail Valley?

Rohn Robbins
Vail, CO, Colorado

In law, Christmas comes twice a year.

New laws in Colorado generally become effective on Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year. Those dates are also when self-adjusting laws generally self-adjust. For example, the minimum wage in Colorado adjusts as of Jan. 1 each year. This year, the minimum wages leaps a whopping 26 cents to $7.28 for non-tipped workers and $4.26 for workers who earn tips.

Try to keep the celebrating for your extra $10 a week to (dare I say it?) a minimum.

Modifications to old laws also generally become effective either on January or July 1. As but one example, DUI laws have been on the books nearly since the time Henry Ford revved up this first internal combustion engine. This year though, the old law received a new burnish with increased penalties.

In some years, the new laws are far-reaching, often with profound, and sometimes unforeseen consequences. The TABOR, from 1992, is but one glaring example.

Other times, not so much. This new year’s batch is largely innocuous. Nonetheless, let’s get you up to speed. But watch that speed ” the fines might be going up!

Legal highlights

Motorists are now required to buy auto insurance with a least $5,000 coverage for medical payments. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, as you can elect to opt out of the requirement but only if you do so affirmatively, or ask for an exemption. If you do nothing, the requirement will apply. Consult your insurance agent for the details.

Colorado Senate Bill 160 increases health care eligibility for 50,000 more children. Also in the realm of health insurance, House Bill 1385 requires the state to provide a consumer guide for health insurance. Touted as a “customer shopping guide,” insurance brokers must, among other things, now disclose how much commission they earn on each policy the sell.

As alluded to above, House Bill 1194 increases the penalties for drunken driving. Specifically, it increases the duration of a drunk driver’s license suspension.

First-time offenders will lose their driving privileges for nine months instead of the previous three-month suspension. A second-time offender’s license suspension remains at one year. Third- and fourth-time offenders will now lose their license for two years rather than the prior one.

The ignition-lock option

As an incentive to first-time offenders, the new law encourages the installation of alcohol ignition locks in an offender’s car to qualify for a restricted license, which reduces the license suspension to four months. Colorado drunk driving laws currently require alcohol ignition locks for second or subsequent offenses or a first offense with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher. The new law increases the reinstatement fee from the previous $60 to $130 and specifies that a portion of the increased fee be transferred to the highway users tax fund to pay for an ignition interlock device for those who cannot afford it.

House Bill 1185 requires all pet shelters and animal rescue groups to spay or neuter cats and dogs before offering them for adoption to new owners. Alternatively, the owner may promise to spay the cat or dog within 90 days of the animal’s adoption and must leave a deposit with the shelter to insure compliance. It the new owner fails to have the animal spayed within 90 days, the shelter may take the animal back.

As usual, there are lots and lots of technical new laws, adjustments and new procedure requirements that are really of interest to no one but attorneys.

There are a host of new municipal laws and ordinances throughout the state as well, one of the most interesting of which ” and which may be bowing to these tough economic times ” is the city of Lakewood’s new law exempting groceries from city sales tax.

This new flock of laws is nothing to get particularly exercised about. What may be more interesting is what may become effective mid-year or next January as the legislature comes to terms with the challenging economic times and, perhaps, takes a bold swing at the pinata of TABOR (the controversial Taxpayer Bill of Rights) and the School Finance Act (also known as Amendment 23).

When I pen the column “What’s new in Colorado Law in 2010,” there may not be ink enough to cover it all and instead of the largely plain vanilla crop of 2009 laws, there may be blood between the words.

Happy New Year to all.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his e-mail address:

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