Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in the state of Colorado. A DUI conviction can lead to serious consequences, including license suspension, time behind bars, and substantial fines. But, the penalties can be even worse if the DUI is charged as vehicular assault. Here’s what you need to know about this criminal charge:
What is Vehicular Assault?
Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged with vehicular assault if their intoxicated driving results in serious bodily injury to another person. For example, if a drunk driver crashes into another car and the other driver suffers serious injuries in the accident, the drunk driver could be charged with vehicular assault.
What Are Serious Bodily Injuries?
The law specifically states that the intoxicated driver must have been responsible for causing serious bodily injury to another person in order to be charged with vehicular assault. But, when is an injury severe enough to be considered a serious bodily injury?
An injury is legally classified as a serious bodily injury when there is a high risk that it could lead to death, permanent disfigurement, or the loss or impairment of a body part. The law also classifies breaks, fractures, and second or third degree burns as serious bodily injuries. This means a brain injury would be considered a serious bodily injury, but a muscle sprain would not.
The Penalties For Vehicular Assault
Vehicular assault is usually a class 5 felony, however if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the incident, it is charged as a class 4 felony. Anyone who is charged with vehicular assault caused by intoxicated driving could face up to six years in prison and fines up to $500,000. The judge has the option of sentencing defendants to probation instead of sending them to prison. However, if the victim’s injuries are severe or if the defendant has a prior record, the judge may not think probation is appropriate. The victim could also file a civil lawsuit against the driver in order to recover compensation for the injuries he sustained in the accident.
A vehicular assault charge does not always lead to a conviction. If you have been charged with this crime, let the criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm help. We will fight tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.