About Vehicular Manslaughter in Colorado Springs, CO
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 465 traffic fatalities in Colorado in 2009, followed by 447 in 2010. Car accidents and other types of traffic collisions are among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States every year, and law enforcement agencies in Colorado and nationwide are doing everything in their power to make the roads safer for everyone. This includes aggressively prosecuting anyone who is accused of causing a fatal motor vehicle accident. Some car accidents are entirely unavoidable, but many can be directly attributed to the actions of one of the drivers. For example, the Colorado Highway Patrol reports that DUI is the leading cause of car accident deaths throughout the state, followed by unsafe lane changes, speeding, driver inattention and traffic signal violations. When one of these occurs, the driver who caused the accident will usually be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Under Colorado Revised Statutes §18-3-106 (2012) "Vehicular homicide," this crime occurs when a driver causes death to another person by driving recklessly or by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The fact that a driver has a prescription for the drug does not serve as a defense to the charges. The penalties for vehicular manslaughter depend on the cause of the accident:
- If you are accused of driving recklessly, it is a Class 4 felony, punishable by between 2 and 6 years in prison and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
- If you are accused of driving under the influence, it is a Class 3 felony, punishable by between 4 and 12 years in prison and between $3,000 and $750,000 in fines
Many cases of vehicular homicide also include charges of leaving the scene, as a driver who causes a serious accident will often commit a hit and run. Leaving the scene is also a Class 3 felony.
Defending Against Vehicular Homicide Charges
The sentence you could receive if convicted of vehicular manslaughter could change your life forever, but there are, fortunately, strategies that can be used to defend you against the charges. For example, the NHTSA identifies two primary defenses for this type of case. One is Identification, also referred to as the "Some Other Dude Did It" defense, which involves attacking the evidence that you were the driver who caused the accident and raising questions about the identity of the driver who is at fault.
The other, Confess and Avoid, involves acknowledging that you were involved in the accident, but challenging the evidence that you were driving recklessly or that you were driving under the influence. See our DUI page to learn more about ways to challenge that type of evidence. Whether you have been charged in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Parker or Denver, we encourage you to contact us at Clawson & Clawson, LLP now for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.