It seems as if in 2020, vehicular assault crimes have become a big issue. According to the Denver magazine 5280, six different drivers have hit protestors with their cars this year alone.
It looks as if this is something that has become somewhat of a trend among Coloradoans with more people protesting in the streets and the choice of some groups to try to counter those protests using what they have on hand – their vehicles.
Using a car to even attempt to hurt someone is illegal in Colorado, and facing vehicular assault charges is not something you want to do. Here’s what you need to know about a vehicular assault – what it is and what penalties someone can face if found guilty of the crime.
What is Vehicular Assault in Colorado?
In order to be charged with vehicular assault in Colorado, both of these things must be true:
- The driver of the car was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Serious bodily injury or death occurred as a result of a car being operated under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Of course, vehicular assault can also be charged when someone operating a vehicle recklessly, and that recklessness results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, including the passenger, another driver, or pedestrians.
How Colorado Defines Serious Bodily Injury
Legal bodily injury is strictly defined by the law in order to help avoid vagueness. In Colorado, it is defined as:
- Posing a significant risk of lasting disfigurement
- Posing a significant risk of death
- Posing a significant risk of bodily impairment
- Second or third-degree burns
- Fractured or broken bones
If any of these things are proven to have happened to the victim(s), then it’s considered serious bodily injury by the law.
Colorado Penalties for Vehicular Assault
In Colorado, the penalties for vehicular assault are severe. They’re even more severe for people who are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Generally speaking, convictions are classified as reckless driving and intoxicated driving. Penalties for each are outlined below.
Someone found guilty of reckless driving that results in a vehicular assault is charged with a Class 5 felony. This can result in up to three years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
If someone is guilty of intoxicated driving and that was the underlying reason for the vehicular assault, then it’s charged as a Class 4 felony. That is punishable by up to six years in prison with three years of mandatory parole and fines up to $500,000.
Possible Defenses to Vehicular Assault
An experienced attorney can help you to defend yourself against vehicular assault charges. The most common defenses presented by attorneys include:
- A first DUI offense
- There was no intent to injure or kill someone
- Willingly making restitution to the victim or victims
- You were not the one operating the vehicle at the time the incident occurred
The truth is that anytime someone is seriously injured in an automobile accident and you are found to be negligent, then you can be charged with vehicular assault.
Even first-time offenders can receive prison sentences if found guilty and if you were under the influence when the crime occurred, then the prosecutor will most likely try to seek the maximum penalty for the crime.
That’s why it’s important to understand your rights if you’re charged with vehicular assault. After all, the things you do and say in the immediate aftermath of the incident can make or break your entire case.
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.