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DENVER — The penalties for driving under the influence in Colorado gets a lot tougher beginning Wednesday as a new law could send drivers to prison if they care caught drunk behind the wheel.

For a long time, there have been complaints that Colorado was going too easy on drunk drivers, allowing people with multiple DUIs to remain on the road.

But lawmakers passed the tougher DUI bill in the spring so that changes starting Wednesday.

The aim is to get the habitual drunk driver off the road. Before Wednesday, many simply got a slap on the wrist and a misdemeanor charge with maybe one year in jail, then getting behind the wheel again.

But now the repeated drunk driver would face felony charges on a fourth DUI conviction. They could be sent to prison for up to six years and be hit with a $500,00 fine.

Some lawmakers said there are other ways to deal with drunk drivers and putting them in prison is too expensive. Colorado joins 45 other states in cracking down on drunk drivers with tougher DUI laws.