When someone dies after an accident, the victim’s family often wants someone to blame. Often, the car accident is simply that—an unfortunate accident. Unfortunately, prosecuting attorneys occasionally bring vehicular manslaughter charges against the surviving driver to satisfy the victim’s family’s demand for retribution.
A vehicular manslaughter lawyer in Colorado can review the facts of your case and help you decide what steps to take next. Facing criminal charges alone can be scary and overwhelming. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Michael Ferrell knows how to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and increase your chances of achieving a favorable result. Contact The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, today to discuss your case with a qualified vehicular manslaughter lawyer. We look forward to putting our knowledge and resources to work for you.
What Is Vehicular Manslaughter?
Colorado’s criminal charge for causing someone’s death while operating a motor vehicle is called vehicular homicide. Colorado outlines two types of vehicular homicide. The first type of vehicular homicide occurs when someone drives recklessly and causes the death of another person. The second type of vehicular homicide occurs when someone drives while under the influence of or with their driving ability impaired by alcohol or drugs and causes the death of another person.
Driving under the influence (DUI) means operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs to a degree that the driver is substantially incapable, either mentally, physically, or both, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) means operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs that affect the driver to the slightest degree so they are less able than they ordinarily would have been, either mentally, physically, or both, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
The practical difference between DUI and DWAI is the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood. A Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC at or above 0.08% means the driver is legally impaired and suspected of committing DUI. A BAC below 0.08% means the driver can be charged for committing DWAI.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
Vehicular homicide that results from driving in a reckless manner is considered a class four felony. The penalties for a class four felony in Colorado include:
- Between 2 and 6 years in Colorado prison,
- Mandatory parole for 3 years, and
- A fine of between $2,000 and $500,000.
Vehicular homicide resulting from someone committing DWAI is also considered a class 4 felony.
Vehicular homicide resulting from someone committing DUI is considered a class 3 felony. The penalties for a class three felony in Colorado include:
- Between 4 and 12 years in prison,
- Mandatory parole for 5 years, and
- A fine between $3,000 and $750,000.
You can also be required to attend substance abuse counseling or complete a treatment program.
Potential Defenses to a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge
The prosecutor is required to prove the following elements in a vehicular homicide case:
- You operated a vehicle;
- You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
- Your actions were the proximate cause of another person’s death.
If we can disprove any of these three elements, the prosecutor cannot obtain a vehicular homicide conviction. A valid legal defense can defeat an element and convince the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce your charges. Legal defenses that can apply to vehicular homicide charges include:
- Someone else was driving the vehicle;
- The victim’s death was caused by something else;
- You were not driving recklessly;
- Your chemical test was administered incorrectly; or
- The police violated your constitutional rights when obtaining evidence.
A legal defense does not apply to every case. A DUI vehicular manslaughter defense attorney in Boulder can review the details of your case to determine if a defense applies to your case.
Contact a Boulder Vehicular Homicide Attorney at The Ferrell Law Firm Today
Our team at The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, has several traits that set us apart from other Colorado criminal defense lawyers. Michael has a 5-star rating on Avvo and received the Clients’ Choice Award for 2023. Our team is committed to protecting our clients’ rights and putting their interests first. We will hold the District Attorney accountable every step of the way and fight to obtain the best result possible. Michael has extensive experience handling criminal charges, including vehicular manslaughter DUI charges.
Michael is dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation to clients facing life-changing criminal charges. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.