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Colorado Vehicular Assault

Colorado Springs Vehicular Assault Lawyer

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Vehicular assault, per CRS 18-3-205, is reckless or intoxicated driving that leads to another person being seriously injured. Vehicular assault is a Class 5 felony if intoxication is not involved, a Class 4 felony if intoxication is alleged, carrying fines of up to $500,000 and potential prison time of one to six years.

Penalties for Vehicular Assault in Colorado

Charge Classification Penalty
Reckless driving vehicular assault Class 5 Felony
  • A $1,000–$100,000 fine
  • 1-3 years in prison
  • 2 years of mandatory parole
DUI vehicular assault Class 4 Felony
  • A $2,000 to $500,000 fine
  • 2–6 years in prison
  • 3 years of mandatory parole
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-205 (1) (a), 18-3-205 (b) (I)

Elements of Vehicular Assault

There are many potential defenses, and they depend on the circumstances of your case. A Colorado criminal defense attorney at our firm will give you the best possible defense that fits the facts of your case.

Here are a few.

The Accused Victim Didn’t Sustain “Serious Bodily Injury”

According to CRS 18-1-901, any injury that, either immediately following the accident or at a later time, involves a high chance of death, a significant case of severe, permanent disfigurement, a substantial likelihood of long-term loss of or damage to one’s senses or physiological functioning amounts to “serious bodily injury.” Not just any injury can satisfy such a charge.

Intervening Event(s)

It is a potential defense that the injury was caused due to a circumstance unrelated to the tragedy and was unexpected. You may not have been reckless at all but were the victim of poor timing or being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

You Weren’t Drinking While Driving

This applies particularly to DUI vehicular assault. After a car collision, specific processes must be followed to get a BAC or THC measurement, although this is not always the case. A criminal defense lawyer can help demonstrate that your DUI test was conducted illegally or against Colorado law.

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-3-205:

(1) (a) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault.

(b) (I) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and this conduct is the proximate cause of a serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault. This is a strict liability crime.

(II) For the purposes of this subsection (1), one or more drugs means any drug, as defined in section 27-80-203 (13), CRS, any controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102 (5), and any inhaled glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor or vapors, as defined in section 18-18-412.

(III) The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection (1) is or has been entitled to use one or more drugs under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this subsection (1).

(IV) “Driving under the influence” means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs affect such person to a degree that such person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

(c) Vehicular assault, in violation of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), is a class 5 felony. Vehicular assault, in violation of paragraph (b) of this subsection (1), is a class 4 felony.

(2) In any prosecution for a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the amount of alcohol in the defendant’s blood or breath at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, as shown by analysis of the defendant’s blood or breath, gives rise to the following:

(a) If there was at such time 0.05 or less grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time 0.05 or less grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, it shall be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol.

(b) If there was at such time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, such fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(c) If there was at such time 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, such fact gives rise to the permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(d) If at such time the driver’s blood contained five nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter in whole blood, as shown by analysis of the defendant’s blood, such fact gives rise to a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of one or more drugs.

(3) The limitations of subsection (2) of this section shall not be construed as limiting the introduction, reception, or consideration of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question of whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(4) (a) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that any person was driving a motor vehicle in violation of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, the person, upon the request of the law enforcement officer, shall take, and complete, and cooperate in the completing of any test or tests of the person’s blood, breath, saliva, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content within his or her system. The type of test or tests shall be determined by the law enforcement officer requiring the test or tests. If the person refuses to take, or to complete, or to cooperate in the completing of any test or tests, the test or tests may be performed at the direction of a law enforcement officer having probable cause, without the person’s authorization or consent. If any person refuses to take, or to complete, or to cooperate in the taking or completing of any test or tests required by this paragraph (a), the person shall be subject to license revocation pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2-126 (3), CRS. When the test or tests show that the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood was in violation of the limits provided for in section 42-2-126 (3)(a), (3)(b), 

(3)(d), or (3)(e), CRS, the person shall be subject to license revocation pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2-126, CRS.

(b) Any person who is required to submit to testing shall cooperate with the person authorized to obtain specimens of his blood, breath, saliva, or urine, including the signing of any release or consent forms required by any person, hospital, clinic, or association authorized to obtain such specimens. If such person does not cooperate with the person, hospital, clinic, or association authorized to obtain such specimens, including the signing of any release or consent forms, such noncooperation shall be considered a refusal to submit to testing.

(c) The tests shall be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer having probable cause to believe that the person committed a violation of subparagraph (I) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section and in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed by the state board of health concerning the health of the person being tested and the accuracy of such testing. Strict compliance with such rules and regulations shall not be a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results at trial unless the court finds that the extent of noncompliance with a board of health rule has so impaired the validity and reliability of the testing method and the test results as to render the evidence inadmissible. In all other circumstances, failure to strictly comply with such rules and regulations shall only be considered in the weight to be given to the test results and not to the admissibility of such test results. It shall not be a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results at trial that the prosecution present testimony concerning the composition of any kit used to obtain blood, urine, saliva, or breath specimens. A sufficient evidentiary foundation concerning the compliance of such kits with the rules and regulations of the department of public health and environment shall be established by the introduction of a copy of the manufacturer’s or supplier’s certificate of compliance with such rules and regulations if such certificate specifies the contents, sterility, chemical makeup, and amounts of chemicals contained in such kit.

(d) No person except a physician, a registered nurse, a paramedic as certified in part 2 of article 3.5 of title 25, C.R.S., an emergency medical service provider as defined in part 1 of article 3.5 of title 25, CRS, or a person whose normal duties include withdrawing blood samples under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse is entitled to withdraw blood to determine the alcoholic or drug content of the blood for purposes of this section. In a trial for a violation of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, testimony of a law enforcement officer that the officer witnessed the taking of a blood specimen by a person who the officer reasonably believed was authorized to withdraw blood specimens is sufficient evidence that the person was authorized, and testimony from the person who obtained the blood specimens concerning the person’s authorization to obtain blood specimens is not a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results concerning the blood specimens obtained. No civil liability shall attach to a person authorized to obtain blood, breath, saliva, or urine specimens or to a hospital, clinic, or association in or for which the specimens are obtained in accordance with this subsection (4) as a result of the act of obtaining the specimens from any person if the specimens were obtained according to the rules prescribed by the state board of health; except that the provision does not relieve the person from liability for negligence in obtaining the specimen sample.

(e) Any person who is dead or unconscious shall be tested to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood or any drug content of his system as provided in this subsection (4). If a test cannot be administered to a person who is unconscious, hospitalized, or undergoing medical treatment because the test would endanger the person’s life or health, the law enforcement agency shall be allowed to test any blood, urine, or saliva which was obtained and not utilized by a health care provider and shall have access to that portion of the analysis and results of any tests administered by such provider which shows the alcohol or drug content of the person’s blood or any drug content within his system. Such test results shall not be considered privileged communications, and the provisions of section 13-90-107, CRS, relating to the physician-patient privilege shall not apply. Any person who is dead, in addition to the tests prescribed, shall also have his blood checked for carbon monoxide content and for the presence of drugs, as prescribed by the department of public health and environment. Such information obtained shall be made a part of the accident report.

(f) If a person refuses to take, or to complete, or to cooperate in the completing of any test or tests as provided in this subsection (4) and such person subsequently stands trial for a violation of subsection 

(1)(b) of this section, the refusal to take, or to complete, or to cooperate with the completing of any test or tests shall be admissible into evidence at the trial, and a person may not claim the privilege against self-incrimination with regard to the admission of his refusal to take, or to complete, or to cooperate with the completing of any test or tests.

(g) Notwithstanding any provision in section 42-4-1301.1, CRS, concerning requirements which relate to the manner in which tests are administered, the test or tests taken pursuant to the provisions of this section may be used for the purposes of driver’s license revocation proceedings under section 42-2-126, CRS, and for the purposes of prosecutions for violations of section 42-4-1301 (1) or (2), CRS.

(5) In all actions, suits, and judicial proceedings in any court of this state concerning alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offenses, the court shall take judicial notice of methods of testing a person’s alcohol or drug level and of the design and operation of devices, as certified by the department of public health and environment, for testing a person’s blood, breath, saliva, or urine to determine his alcohol or drug level. This subsection (5) shall not prevent the necessity of establishing during a trial that the testing devices used were working properly and that such testing devices were properly operated. Nothing in this subsection (5) shall preclude a defendant from offering evidence concerning the accuracy of testing devices.

Have you been charged or arrested for vehicular assault in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

You should retain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Colorado if you face a vehicular assault charge. There is far too much at stake. Serving time, paying fines, and losing your driving license are debilitating consequences.

At Right Law Group, we have extensive experience in this area of law. We know how to maneuver through the tricky court system and present favorable facts to a court. Come by our offices if you are in the Colorado Springs or surrounding areas. We will defend your freedom.

 

Don’t let one wrong decision impact your life, job or freedom.

Call today for a free case evaluation.

Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or
    Summons
    01

    Arrest or
    Summons

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing
    02

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of
    Charges
    03

    Advisement of
    Charges

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)
    04

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing
    05

    Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment
    06

    Arraignment

    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing
    07

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness
    Conference
    08

    Pretrial Readiness
    Conference

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial
    09

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing
    Date
    10

    Sentencing
    Date

    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a strict liability offense in Colorado?

Whether the criminal meant to harm anyone is irrelevant. The only issue is whether the defendant caused substantial damage by driving carelessly or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Can I still be tried in a Colorado civil court?

Yes. Victims of vehicular assault who sustain injuries may file a civil lawsuit to recover damages to cover their medical expenses, lost earnings, and other accident-related expenses. It would be best to consider retaining an attorney from Right Law Group to represent you in your criminal lawsuit and work closely with your civil attorney.

Do "drugs" include prescription medication?

Yes. Any restricted substance is considered a “drug” under the definition in the statute (CRS 18-3-205 (II)), which includes numerous pharmaceutical active components. You can also be charged with driving under the influence from prescribed medications.