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DUI proof could upgrade Colorado driver’s assault charge

Police investigators routinely perform toxicology tests upon drivers following motor vehicle accidents involving serious injuries and deaths. That may not mean intoxication is suspected. Many times, the tests are performed simply to rule out the possibility of a drunk driving accident.

At the same time, law enforcers may not wait for lab test results to consider filing accident-related DUI charges. A Boulder driver who appears impaired or fails a breath test potentially is up against very serious criminal charges.

A 65-year-old Carbondale woman suffered fatal injuries in a recent mid-day accident. Witnesses told the Colorado State Patrol that a van ran a red light and smashed into the woman's station wagon as the victim's vehicle crossed a Highway 82 intersection. Investigators suspect the male van driver was drunk at the time of the crash.

The van hit the driver's side of the woman's car. The 50-year-old van driver was wearing a seat belt and suffered minor injuries. The woman, who was not belted in, was critically injured. She was first taken to a Glenwood Springs hospital and later airlifted to a Denver facility, where she died.

Authorities plan to charge the surviving driver with a vehicular assault charge, which police indicated could be upgraded to vehicular homicide. Under Colorado law 18:3-106, DUI vehicular homicide is a class 3 felony, a more serious charge than vehicular homicide due to other grossly negligent or reckless behavior.

DUI charges under any circumstances may be damaging to a defendant. The severity of penalties depends upon multiple factors like how much alcohol was present in a defendant's blood, criminal history and the effects of drunk driving on others. The harshest punishments involve alcohol-related accident injuries and losses of life.

Along with extensive prison time and numerous other penalties, a defendant may face catastrophic personal and professional consequences. Some or all of these issues may be avoided with strong legal representation.

Source: Post Independent, "Police: Suspected drunken driver may be charged in woman’s death" Aug. 12, 2014

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