Colorado Springs Vehicular Assault Defense Attorney
Vehicular assault is a serious felony in Colorado with correspondingly serious consequences. Pursuant to Colorado law, DUI is a lesser included offense of vehicular assault. People v. Smoots, 396 P.3d 53, 57 (Colo. App. 2013). This means that what may otherwise be a "normal" DUI case can be elevated to a serious felony if a person incurs serious injuries in the accident. When you’ve been arrested and are facing a difficult allegation, you need an attorney who will fight for you from day one, which is exactly what we’re known for at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C.
Our lawyers have provided aggressive counsel for individuals accused of vehicular assault across the state. Our goal is to work towards minimizing any potential long-lasting impact a case like this can have on your life and make sure your rights are never stepped on or overlooked. Call (719) 475-2555 now for a free consultation.
According to Colorado Revised Statute § 18-3-205, there are two situations that give rise to a driver facing a vehicular assault allegation:
- 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.
- 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. Vehicular assault that includes an allegation of driving under the influence is a strict liability crime.
Reckless driving, for purposes of vehicular assault, involves a person who "disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists" when operating a motor vehicle. See People v. Scarlett, 985 P.2d 1211 (Colo. 1977). This is a departure from the definition of reckless driving as codified by Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1401 (2017). It is a more serious offense than "careless driving," which is characterized by a lack of proper diligence while driving; for example, a driver being distracted by passengers or adjusting the radio.
For a prosecutor to win a conviction for vehicular assault due to reckless driving, he or she must prove not only that there was a serious bodily injury but that the driver caused such injury by disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such an accident would occur. Examples include excessive speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road, fleeing from an officer of the law, road rage, and other types of dangerous and intentional driving acts.
To be deemed as driving under the influence, a person must be substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. If there was a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08% or higher captured by a chemical test within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, the prosecution will rely on the permissible inference that the driver was under the influence. If you are accused of a DUI that has resulted in an injury, you will most likely be charged with vehicular assault, among other offenses. The law does not recognize any exception for impairment caused by prescription drugs in most cases. Colorado prosecutors do not have to prove in court that it was the intention of a driver to cause another person harm. They must only show that a driver was under the influence and operating a vehicle at the time of the accident, which resulted in injuries to the other person regardless of who was at fault.
Conviction of vehicular assault for a DUI-related injury or fatality means you will face much stricter penalties than those for a DUI alone. If it involves intoxication, vehicular assault is a class 4 felony, so you could face two to eight years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. You may also be subject to punitive damages depending on how serious the injuries were.
If found guilty of a DUI-related vehicular assault, a driver is subject to a variety of penalties, including:
- Prison for a 2-12 year sentence followed by a mandatory 3-year period of parole.
- A lengthy jail sentence through a work release program.
- Fines as high as $500,000.
- Restitution for any losses suffered by the injured party, which can include insurance companies paying for medical treatment.
- Judgments following the settlement of any civil lawsuit.
- Loss of driver’s license for a 12-month period without any possibility of receiving special driving privileges or a reduced revocation period.
Reckless driving vehicular assault, a class 5 felony, mandates slightly less severe penalties than a DUI-related vehicular assault. However, a conviction still carries the possibility for a sentence to the department of corrections for a term of one to six years followed by a mandatory two-year period of parole. In either case, the penalties for a conviction will permanently affect a person’s life, including the felony conviction itself and the possibility for jail or prison time, financial penalties, the loss of driving privileges, and other consequences.
Drivers accused of vehicular assault that causes injury should not automatically assume they will be convicted. There are many strategies an experienced defense lawyer might be able to use to defend against the accusation, such as challenging the BAC/BrAC result, investigating malfunctioning equipment for a breath test, finding inconsistencies in related reports and witness accounts, reconstructing the accident to challenge a claim of reckless driving, and uncovering that the proper protocol for evidence collection was not followed.
If you or a loved one is facing a vehicular assault charge, contact our team of Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., as soon as possible. We will listen to the particulars of your case and recommend the best course of action for building an aggressive defense. Call us at (719) 475-2555 to schedule a consultation today.