There are two ways Vehicular Assault, C.R.S. 18-3-205, can be charged in Denver, Broomfield, or Weld County. Section (1)(a) of this statute addresses this crime when the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Section (1)(b) addresses the same situation when the operator is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Last August there was a story on thedenverchannel.com about a Department of Corrections worker who was arrested in Aurora, Colorado for Vehicular Assault. The police estimated the man was traveling 75 mph in a 45 mph zone. His car hit another car, severely injuring a man, his wife and their two year old daughter. What makes this a fairly easy case for the Arapahoe District Attorney is that the Department of Corrections worker admitted to drinking alcohol and the painkiller Vicodin before the accident!
When someone recklessly injures another person while driving a motor vehicle in Jefferson, or Douglas County, they stand a good chance of being arrested for Vehicular Assault. In order for a prosecutor to prove her case to a jury, she must show that the defendant was acting in a reckless manner, UNLESS the defendant was drinking alcohol, or taking drugs (legally or illegally). The Vehicular Assault statute says that when this exception applies it becomes a “strict liability” case. Simply put, the prosecutor only needs to prove that the defendant was drinking (Blood Alcohol Content) or under the influence of drugs, and that the defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered. They do not need to show that the defendant was being reckless in any other way.
There are a couple of things we can learn from the above story. First, if you have been taking any sort of substance that may cause you to be impaired, even slightly, and you get behind the wheel of a car, you take a huge risk. Legal Marijuana use in Doulas, Adams, or Jefferson County would be included in the list of substances. An accident can happen to anyone at any time – but if you are impaired when someone gets hurt, you will be charged with Vehicular Assault.
The other lesson is a reminder to remain silent. If this man is convicted of Vehicular Assault, he will have a class 4 felony on his record for the rest of his life, and likely a prison sentence.
If you are being investigated for Vehicular Assault or any other crime in Colorado, “be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.