Author Photo
Written by: Austin Lux
| Read Time: 3 minutes

Causing a fatal vehicle accident may seem like enough punishment all on its own.

Now that the immediate shock of the situation has subsided, you may find yourself confronted with a charge for vehicular manslaughter in Colorado.

Do not take this serious charge lightly.

What Is Colorado Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide are interchangeable terms.

Under 18-3-106 CRS, Colorado law defines vehicular homicide as driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner or under the influence of alcohol or drugs and thereby causing an accident that kills another person. 

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter in Colorado

There are two degrees of vehicular homicide in Colorado. Both include severe penalties depending on the circumstances of the accident. 

Colorado reckless vehicular homicide

The term “reckless” is legally defined as “a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

This means that you understood the conduct was risky but did it anyway. Speeding, swerving intentionally, or driving while knowingly distracted can all be considered reckless. 

Reckless vehicular homicide is a class four felony in Colorado. Penalties include:

  • Two to six years in prison, and/or
  • A fine ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.

Your specific circumstances will dictate the exact repercussions. 

Colorado DUI Vehicular Homicide

DUI Vehicular homicide can involve the same elements as a reckless vehicular homicide but includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This increases the seriousness of the charge and elevates it to a Colorado class three felony. Penalties include:

  • Four to twelve years in prison, and/or
  • A fine ranging from $3,000 to $750,000.

This classification remains whether or not the driving was reckless. The deciding factor is the DUI component. 

How to Defend Against Colorado Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

Sometimes accidents are just accidents. It is reasonable that the family of the deceased are searching for somewhere to place blame, but that blame may or may not reasonably rest on you.

Regardless, the fact that someone has died means that these charges will be zealously prosecuted.

Your best defense against a vehicular homicide Colorado charge is highly dependent upon the circumstances of your case. Here are some common defenses that may be applicable.

You Were Not the Driver of the Vehicle. 

This may seem obvious, but without witnesses, it may be difficult to prove who was actually driving at the time the accident occurred. 

Your Driving Was Not Reckless

The prosecution must prove that you willfully drove in a way that presented a substantial and unjustifiable risk to others.

It is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove your speed, trajectory, driving pattern, and driving conditions. A mistake while driving such as not looking both ways before entering the intersection is certainly an infraction.

But at normal speeds, this alone may not be considered reckless. 

No Drugs or Alcohol

Colorado has no strict legal limits for alcohol in vehicular homicide cases. The prosecution must prove that you were unable to drive safely.

A blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher implies that alcohol may have impacted your driving. However, this is not conclusive and must overcome the burden of reasonable doubt.

A BAC of lower than .08% will need additional supporting evidence to prove inebriation.

Police Officer Errors

Police errors at the scene of the accident may be applicable defenses to your Colorado vehicular manslaughter charge. The police officer must advise you of your rights before you submit to a DUI test and before you are arrested.

Bring any coerced confessions, evidence tampering, illegal searches, and intimidation to the attention of your Colorado criminal defense attorney so they can assess the viability of this defense in your case.

You Can’t Do It Alone

The criminal justice system is intimidating at best. If you are faced with a serious, life-changing charge like Colorado vehicular manslaughter, you need the help of experienced legal representation to protect your rights and best interests.

The team at Lux Law Firm is dedicated to investigating, negotiating, and litigating on your behalf for the best possible outcome. Contact us today for your free case consultation.  

    • Take the First Step Towards Securing Your Future * Required Fields
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.