December 9, 2023
Sometimes, driving under the influence in Colorado isn’t as simple as you were operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit in the state. Sometimes, you can illegally operate a vehicle under the influence and hurt another person. And if that person is considered a vulnerable road user, you can face serious legal consequences.
DUIs on their own in Colorado can land you in plenty of legal hot water, but it’s also important to know other laws that can impact your DUI case – like the Vulnerable Road User Law in Colorado.
Read on to find out all you need to know about this law and the penalties you can face if you cause bodily injury to a vulnerable road user when driving under the influence.
Colorado’s Vulnerable Road User Law
In Colorado, vulnerable road users are roadway users exposed to injury from someone in a vehicle because they are not in one themselves. This can include people on bikes, skateboards, pedestrians, and even those on a farm tractor or animal-drawn vehicle. Baby strollers and wheelchairs, even sleds, are protected under this law. Additionally, law enforcement officers, emergency services, and utility workers are also covered.
To be considered a vulnerable road user, a person must be lawfully using the shoulder of a roadway or a crosswalk. If they sustain any type of serious injury caused by the actions of a motor vehicle driver, the driver can get charged with a crime under the law that protects vulnerable road users.
Serious Bodily Injury Defined in Colorado
This type of injury puts a person at risk of death, perpetual disfigurement, or prolonged impairment or loss of a physical function. Bone fractures, as well as second-and third-degree burns can also qualify as serious bodily injuries.
Penalties for Breaking CO Vulnerable Road User Laws
Causing serious bodily injury to a vulnerable road user is considered a criminal traffic offense. It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you can lose your license and go to jail for up to 12 months.
However, if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the incident occurs, you may also face DUI penalties. It can be considered vehicular assault to cause serious bodily injury to another when operating a vehicle under the influence in Colorado.
DUIs that cause injury are Class 4 felonies in our state. The penalties that can result from a conviction for this crime depend on your driving history, and any previous history you may have of DUI offenses.
You can go to prison for up to six years and be required to follow a mandatory parole period of three years after your release. You also may have to pay fines up to $500,000, lose your license for up to one year, and be required to pay restitution to the victim who sustained the injuries.
When you operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are opening yourself up to criminal charges – especially if you hurt another person while driving under the influence. That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your side to help you understand the charges against you and provide the best defense.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.