Colorado hit and run laws: What to do after an accident in the centennial state?
- Colorado hit and run laws: What to do after an accident in the centennial state?
- Colorado hit and run laws explained: title 42 “vehicles and traffic 42-4-1601
- What if a hit-and-run does not result in injury or death?
- What if a hit and run results in injury or death?
- What is the penalty for hit and run in Colorado?
- When does a hit-and-run turn into a felony in Colorado?
- Hit and run while intoxicated in Colorado
- How do you prove fault in Colorado?
- What to do after an accident in Colorado
- What is the statute of limitations on hit and run accidents in Colorado?
- What evidence is needed to convict a hit and run in Colorado?
- Colorado hit and run laws: defenses
Under 42-4-1601, Colorado hit and run laws, the first thing to do after an accident is to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene or close by. Failure to do stop and fulfill the requirements of 42-4-1603 will result in misdemeanor or felony charges.
Quick take: Colorado hit and run laws
- You must remain at the scene of an accident and fulfill all requirements under 42-4-1603
- Hit and run in Colorado escalates into a felony if the driver had motive (intent) or if the accident results in death or injury.
Colorado hit and run laws explained: title 42 “vehicles and traffic 42-4-1601
As mentioned, Colorado hit and run laws require that whenever a driver is involved in an accident that results in property damage, death, or injury. The driver must stop the vehicle and remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If the accident results in property damage alone, you may move the vehicle or park it in a way that does not interfere with traffic or endanger the lives of other motorists.
What are your obligations after an accident in Colorado?
- You must provide your name, address, and vehicle registration number to the victim, law enforcement, or the vehicle’s occupant.
- Offer reasonable assistance to the injured party, including making arrangements for transportation of the victim.
Note that section 1.5 of 42-54-1601, reads in part, quote, “it shall not be an offense under this section if a driver, after fulfilling the requirements of subsection (1) of this section and section 42-4-1603(1), leaves the scene of the accident to report the accident following the provisions of sections 42-4-1603(2) and 42-4-1606”
What that means is a hit and run in Colorado only becomes a crime if you flee the scene or fail to fulfill what is required of you.
In Colorado, you have a legal duty to give notice, information, and aid
Under section 42-4-1603, failure to fulfill the requirements above, that is. Providing reasonable assistance to the victim or failing to exchange information with the victim or law enforcement are violations of the statute. What if no law enforcement officer is available at the scene?
You must report the incident to the nearest law enforcement office.
What if a hit-and-run does not result in injury or death?
If you run and fail to fulfill the requirements above, you are guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
What if you cannot contact or find the owner of the vehicle?
If no one is injured, you may leave your information in a conspicuous spot on the vehicle or damaged property.
What if a hit and run results in injury or death?
If the victim does not suffer serious injury and the driver flees the scene. The driver is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. If the victim suffers serious injuries, the charges may escalate to class 4 felony charges.
What if the victim dies?
The charges escalate into a class 3 felony which is punishable by 4 to 12 years in prison and/or additional fines of up to $750,000.
What is the penalty for hit and run in Colorado?
As mentioned, the penalty depends on your actions immediately after the accident. Consequently, if you stop and fulfill the requirements above, you may not be guilty of a crime. But the victim has the right to take civil action.
That said, the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident in Colorado are:
- No injuries: class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months at the county jail and a fine not exceeding $5000.
- Hit and run resulting in injury: class 4 felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500000.
- Hit and run resulting in death: class 3 felony, punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750000.
Note, upon conviction, the department can revoke your driver’s license.
When does a hit-and-run turn into a felony in Colorado?
If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, if you had a motive to cause property, committed an act of road rage, or caused damage, injury, or death. Prosecutors may pursue felony charges including vehicular homicide, manslaughter, vehicular assault, and all other charges related to the facts presented. What that means is a single set of facts may lead to multiple convictions.
Hit and run while intoxicated in Colorado
If you were drunk or intoxicated at the time of the accident, you are guilty of a class 4 felony which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years of parole and a maximum sentence of six years in prison. Vehicular homicide is a class 3 felony, punishable by up to 14 years in prison and/or up to $750,000 in fines.
Section 42-4-1601 through 42-4-1603; what to remember:
- You have a legal obligation to stay at the scene of an accident and provide reasonable assistance to the victim.
- If you stay at the scene and fulfill the requirements, you have committed no crime. But the victim may take legal action against you.
- You may move the vehicle if the accident does not result in death or injury.
- If the accident results in death or injury, do not move the vehicle unless instructed by emergency workers or law enforcement.
- You must exhibit to the injured party or law enforcement your name, address, or other identifying documents.
How do you prove fault in Colorado?
Colorado is an at-fault state, what that means is negligence determines the at-fault party. You prove negligence to the court by demonstrating that the other party owed you a duty of care, the individual failed to act following duty of care, and that your loss, injury, or property damage was the result of a negligent act.
Therefore, do not admit blame at the scene of the accident or say anything that may be used against you. If the accident results in serious injury or death, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney immediately.
What is negligence under Colorado law?
Driving under the influence, disobeying traffic signs, changing lanes in an unsafe manner, speeding, following another vehicle too closely, road rage, and other violations of traffic rules and regulations. Are all negligent acts in Colorado.
What to do after an accident in Colorado
If you are the victim or witness, you should write down, or document all details of the accident, the fleeing driver’s description, including registration and car make. That information will make it easier for law enforcement to find and arrest the fleeing driver.
Also, you should not accept blame, harm, or threaten the other party, or engage in unlawful conduct.
What is the statute of limitations on hit and run accidents in Colorado?
Under state law, you have three years to file a lawsuit after a hit and run. If the accident results in death or serious injury, the statute of limitation extends to five years. The statute of limitation on vehicular homicide in Colorado is ten years.
What is the difference between a hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident?
An accident turns into a hit-and-run if the driver fails to stop and render reasonable assistance to the victim.
It is also worth noting that you have 60 days to file an accident report at the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles. You may file your report in person or at their website. Note that your attorney and the prosecutor may use police reports to establish fault. Therefore, it is advisable to contact an attorney before you file yours.
What evidence is needed to convict a hit and run in Colorado?
As mentioned, in Colorado, the at-fault party is responsible for paying damages to the injured party. To prove that you were not at fault, you should gather car accident evidence immediately after the incident. That means if you are not injured or incapacitated, you should collect witness testimony and the following.
- Take photographs of the fleeing vehicle.
- Call law enforcement and your insurer.
- Get medical treatment right away and keep all receipts and costs of treatment.
- If possible, find video footage of the incident.
Colorado hit and run laws: defenses
If you ran from the scene of an accident, your lawyer may use the following defenses.
Note, your defense strategy depends on the facts. You should discuss with your attorney which defense may be best applicable for your case.
You feared for your health and safety
If you conclude that staying at the scene may result in death, injury, or property damage. Your lawyer may use your assumptions to shape your defense strategy. Remember, your safety trumps your responsibility to stay at the scene and fulfill the requirements above. But you must report the incident to law enforcement.
Other defenses include:
- You were incapacitated or suffered a serious injury, making you unable to fulfill the requirements or call law enforcement.
- The victim suffered no injuries or property damage.
- You left the scene to find help for the victim.
Other Colorado Laws