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Vehicular Homicide

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The Orr Law Firm provides information on the statutes that define vehicular homicide. Need legal counsel regarding your case? Do not hesitate to reach out to our Denver traffic offense lawyers today. We are prepared to help you.

Colorado's Vehicular Homicide 18-3-106 Statute

(1) (a) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide.

(b) (I) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide. This is a strict liability crime.

(II) For the purposes of this subsection (1), one or more drugs shall mean all substances defined as a drug in section 12-22-303 (13), C.R.S., and all controlled substances defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., and glue-sniffing, aerosol inhalation, or the inhalation of any other toxic vapor or vapors as defined in section 18-18-412.

(III) The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection (1) is or has been entitled to use one or more drugs under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this subsection (1).

(IV) "Driving under the influence" means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs affect such person to a degree that such person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

(c) Vehicular homicide, in violation of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), is a class 4 felony. Vehicular homicide, in violation of paragraph (b) of this subsection (1), is a class 3 felony.

(2) In any prosecution for a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the amount of alcohol in the defendant's blood or breath at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, as shown by analysis of the defendant's blood or breath, shall give rise to the following presumptions:

(a) If there was at such time 0.05 or less grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time 0.05 or less grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, it shall be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol.

(b) If there was at such time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, such fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(c) If there was at such time 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath, it shall be presumed that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(3) The limitations of subsection (2) of this section shall not be construed as limiting the introduction, reception, or consideration of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question of whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(4) (a) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that any person was driving a motor vehicle in violation of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, the person, upon the request of the law enforcement officer, shall take, and complete, and cooperate in the completing of any test or tests of the person's blood, breath, saliva, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content within his or her system. The type of test or tests shall be determined by the law enforcement officer requiring the test or tests. If the person refuses to take, or to complete, or to cooperate in the completing of any test or tests, the test or tests may be performed at the direction of a law enforcement officer having probable cause, without the person's authorization or consent. If any person refuses to take or complete, or cooperate in the taking or completing of any test or tests required by this paragraph (a), the person shall be subject to license revocation pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2-126 (3), C.R.S. When the test or tests show that the amount of alcohol in a person's blood was in violation of the limits provided for in section 42-2-126 (3) (a), (3) (b), (3) (d), or (3) (e), C.R.S., the person shall be subject to license revocation pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2-126, C.R.S.

(b) Any person who is required to submit to testing shall cooperate with the person authorized to obtain specimens of his blood, breath, saliva, or urine, including the signing of any release or consent forms required by any person, hospital, clinic, or association authorized to obtain such specimens. If such person does not cooperate with the person, hospital, clinic, or association authorized to obtain such specimens, including the signing of any release or consent forms, such noncooperation shall be considered a refusal to submit to testing.

(c) The tests shall be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer having probable cause to believe that the person committed a violation of subparagraph (I) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section and in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed by the state board of health concerning the health of the person being tested and the accuracy of such testing. Strict compliance with such rules and regulations shall not be a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results at trial unless the court finds that the extent of noncompliance with a board of health rule has so impaired the validity and reliability of the testing method and the test results as to render the evidence inadmissible. In all other circumstances, failure to strictly comply with such rules and regulations shall only be considered in the weight to be given to the test results and not to the admissibility of such test results. It shall not be a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results at trial that the prosecution present testimony concerning the composition of any kit used to obtain blood, urine, saliva, or breath specimens. A sufficient evidentiary foundation concerning the compliance of such kits with the rules and regulations of the department of public health and environment shall be established by the introduction of a copy of the manufacturer's or supplier's certificate of compliance with such rules and regulations if such certificate specifies the contents, sterility, chemical makeup, and amounts of chemicals contained in such kit.

(d) No person except a physician, a registered nurse, a paramedic as certified in part 2 of article 3.5 of title 25, C.R.S., an emergency medical technician as defined in part 1 of article 3.5 of title 25, C.R.S., or a person whose normal duties include withdrawing blood samples under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse shall be entitled to withdraw blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content therein. In any trial for a violation of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, testimony of a law enforcement officer that he witnessed the taking of a blood specimen by a person who he reasonably believed was authorized to withdraw blood specimens shall be sufficient evidence that such person was so authorized, and testimony from the person who obtained the blood specimens concerning such person's authorization to obtain blood specimens shall not be a prerequisite to the admissibility of test results concerning the blood specimens obtained. No civil liability shall attach to any person authorized to obtain blood, breath, saliva, or urine specimens or to any hospital, clinic, or association in or for which such specimens are obtained pursuant to this subsection (4) as a result of the act of obtaining such specimens from any person if such specimens were obtained according to the rules and regulations prescribed by the state board of health; except that such provision shall not relieve any such person from liability for negligence in the obtaining of any specimen sample.

(e) Any person who is dead or unconscious shall be tested to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood or any drug content of his system as provided in this subsection (4). If a test cannot be administered to a person who is unconscious, hospitalized, or undergoing medical treatment because the test would endanger the person's life or health, the law enforcement agency shall be allowed to test any blood, urine, or saliva which was obtained and not utilized by a health care provider and shall have access to that portion of the analysis and results of any tests administered by such provider which shows the alcohol or drug content of the person's blood or any drug content within his system. Such test results shall not be considered privileged communications and the provisions of section 13-90-107, C.R.S., relating to the physician-patient privilege shall not apply. Any person who is dead, in addition to the tests prescribed, shall also have his blood checked for carbon monoxide content and for the presence of drugs, as prescribed by the department of public health and environment. Such information obtained shall be made a part of the accident report.

(f) If a person refuses to take, or to complete, or to cooperate in the completing of any test or tests as provided in this subsection (4) and such person subsequently stands trial for a violation of subsection (1) (b) of this section, the refusal to take or to complete, or to cooperate with the completing of any test or tests shall be admissible into evidence at the trial, and a person may not claim the privilege against self-incrimination with regard to the admission of his refusal to take, or to complete, or to cooperate with the completing of any test or tests.

(g) Notwithstanding any provision in section 42-4-1301.1, C.R.S., concerning requirements which relate to the manner in which tests are administered, the test or tests taken pursuant to the provisions of this section may be used for the purposes of driver's license revocation proceedings under section 42-2-126, C.R.S., and for the purposes of prosecutions for violations of section 42-4-1301 (1) or (2), C.R.S.

(5) In all actions, suits, and judicial proceedings in any court of this state concerning alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offenses, the court shall take judicial notice of methods of testing a person's alcohol or drug level and of the design and operation of devices, as certified by the department of public health and environment, for testing a person's blood, breath, saliva, or urine to determine his alcohol or drug level. This subsection (5) shall not prevent the necessity of establishing during a trial that the testing devices used were working properly and that such testing devices were properly operated. Nothing in this subsection (5) shall preclude a defendant from offering evidence concerning the accuracy of testing devices.

Vehicular homicide and vehicular assault are serious felony crimes, but are distinguishable by the degree of injury. While both crimes are serious, vehicular homicide is the more serious of the two and carries the more severe penalties. Both vehicular assault and vehicular homicide involve reckless driving and driving under the influence or while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

It is not a defense to vehicular assault or vehicular homicide for the driver to claim that they did not mean or intend to injure or kill someone. Do not let the guilt of this incident cloud your judgment. In cases like vehicular assault and vehicular homicide the penalties are so severe that you must retain legal counsel and protect your rights as the accused immediately. You need someone with experience handling similar cases and with a proven track record for success.

The attorneys at The Orr Law Firm Can aggressively defend your rights

If you are dealing with the traumatizing aftermath of an accident involving the death of a third party and you are being charged with vehicular homicide, contact The Orr Law Firm. We are one of Colorado's top DUI defense firms and handle a broad range of traffic-related offenses. We have 40+ years of experience and remain the firm you want on your side.

Call (303) 818-2448 to set up a free phone consultation.

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