Operating a vehicle is a big responsibility. Most of the time, people are able to get where they need to go behind the wheel without incident. Sometimes things go wrong, however, and people get hurt – which puts you at risk of being charged with a crime.
An 18-year-old in Colorado Springs found out the hard way what can happen when things take a turn for the worst. During his attempted escape from a youth correctional facility, he added to the charges he was already facing with vehicular assault.
Here’s what you need to know about a vehicular assault in Colorado and what you could face if you ever find yourself charged with this offense.
What Does Colorado Say About Vehicular Assault?
In Colorado, two things must be true in order for someone to be charged with vehicular assault:
- A vehicle is driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of driving under the influence
Someone can also be charged with vehicular assault if a vehicle is operated in a manner considered reckless that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a pedestrian, passenger in a car, or a driver.
What Constitutes Serious Bodily Injury in Colorado?
In Colorado, there is a strict definition of bodily injury to avoid ambiguity in the charging of someone under the law. It is defined as:
- Causing a significant risk of death
- Causing a significant risk of bodily impairment
- Causing a significant risk of disfigurement
- Causing fractured or broken bones
- Causing second or third-degree burns
If any single one of these things occurs, then it is considered a serious bodily injury.
Colorado Penalties for Vehicular Assault
Colorado takes vehicular assault seriously, especially for those who were under the influence when operating a vehicle. If the cause of the vehicular assault was reckless driving, then it’s a Class 5 felony. The penalties for this type of felony include:
- Up to three years in prison with a mandatory period of two years of parole
- Fines up to $100,000
When a vehicular assault occurred as a result of driving under the influence, then it is considered a Class 4 felony. This is punishable by:
- Up to six years in prison with a mandatory period of three years of parole
- Fines up to $500,000
Defenses Against Colorado Vehicular Assault
If you are charged with vehicular assault, then it’s a good idea to hire an attorney to represent you who understands the charges and can mount a defense for you in court. Most of the time, vehicular assault cases are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Prosecutors often make the case the negligence and carelessness caused someone else to be seriously hurt or even killed. There are a couple of different defenses commonly used in these cases:
- If you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident, you can make a case for leniency if it was your first DUI offense.
- You can also try to claim that the accident that caused the injuries or deaths was not your fault or that you were not driving recklessly when the accident occurred. Either way, having proper representation is essential.
Accidents are scary and are even more so when someone is seriously injured or dies as a result. Understand your rights so that you’re not found guilty of something you didn’t do.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.