Vehicular homicide, or vehicular manslaughter, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (whether prescribed, over-the-counter or illegal) is the most serious traffic charge a person can face under Colorado law.
Drivers facing such a charge should make no statements, offer to take no tests, and volunteer no information. Your first and only call should be to a veteran criminal defense lawyer in Denver who is experienced in handling both DUI and vehicular homicide charges.
18-3-106 CRS defines vehicular homicide as driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while causing a collision that kills another person. However, the penalties are significantly enhanced when alcohol or drugs are involved.
Killing someone by driving recklessly is a Class 4 felony under Colorado law. Penalties include:
Killing someone while driving under the influence, is a Class 3 felony under Colorado law. Penalties include:
As significant as doubled minimum and maximum periods of incarceration, is the fact that the state does not have to prove you drove recklessly - proving you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs is sufficient enough evidence to prove you guilty of vehicular homicide so long as your driving was the proximate cause of the death of another person.
In other words, to prove you guilty of vehicular homicide in Colorado, the state must prove:
Defense of vehicular homicide charges involving alcohol or drugs under Colorado law will involve both fighting the underlying DUI charge and working to prove the collision was not the proximate cause of death.
Challenging proximate cause of death typically involves arguing death was caused by an intervening event. While there is much case law that provides the groundwork for what is or is not an intervening event, distancing the collision from the cause of death could involve:
Challenging the underlying DUI charge is much more straightforward but its importance is just as vital to proper defense of a vehicular homicide charge in Colorado involving alcohol or drugs.
Failure to comply with a request for blood, urine or other testing may be used against you but is typically a better option than providing the state with a failed test to use against you in court. In cases of vehicular homicide, a driver who refuses to take such a test can have bodily fluids taken for testing against his or her will, provided proper procedures are followed, which will certainly be one element challenged in court by your defense attorney.
Other evidence the state will use may include:
Areas where your Denver criminal defense attorney will work to defend against a charge of vehicular homicide involving alcohol or drug use may include:
James Colgan is a veteran drunk driving defense attorney who represents clients throughout the Denver metro area, including Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Thornton, Westminster, Berkley, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Columbine, Commerce City, Englewood, Federal Heights, Golden, Greenwood Village, Ken Caryl, Littleton, Lone Tree, Northglenn, Parker, Sherrelwood, The Pinery, Welby and Wheat Ridge.
Call the Law Office of James Colgan at 720-909-6425 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.