Most traffic violations are relatively minor. Police officers spot someone technically breaking the law and conduct a traffic stop. The motorist receives a ticket that they have to fight or pay. Submitting the money for the fine to the state is the equivalent of entering a guilty plea. Every traffic offense results in licensure points that the state will track. A driver acquiring too many points in a short number of months might lead to the state suspending their driver’s license. Their poor driving record could also increase what they pay for insurance.
Yet, not all traffic infractions are minor offenses. Sometimes, the state actually prosecutes someone accused of a significant traffic violation. Vehicular assault is one of the more serious traffic offenses regularly prosecuted in Colorado. There are two circumstances in which prosecutors may claim that someone committed a vehicular assault.
They hurt someone while under the influence
It is illegal to drive after consuming controlled substances or drinking enough alcohol to raise an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit. Those who are over the legal limit and even those who are under the legal limit but obviously struggling to drive safely with detectable levels of alcohol or other intoxicants in their bloodstreams could face criminal charges for vehicular assault if they hit a pedestrian or cause a crash where somebody gets hurt.
They crashed into someone due to negligence or misconduct
Negligence is another reason why someone could face charges for causing someone injury. Negligence involves doing something obviously unsafe, such as violating traffic statutes on purpose. There are a host of traffic laws that apply beyond the requirement to remain sober at the wheel. Anyone who commits a major traffic infraction and then causes injury to another person could face accusations of vehicular assault.
Vehicular assault charges will potentially lead not only to criminal penalties imposed by a judge but also to a criminal record that will pop up whenever employers, educational institutions or landlords perform background checks. The penalties the state imposes will depend on whether the case involves intoxication or negligence, with intoxication leading to more serious penalties in many cases.
Understanding why the state might pursue vehicular assault charges is the first step toward planning a potentially successful defense against such allegations.