H. Michael Steinberg has 38+ years of experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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2012 Colorado Law Closes Hit And Run Loophole – Anomaly

As an ex Career DA and now as a Colorado criminal defense lawyer, I have been aware for more than 38  years of a loophole in the criminal law of Colorado that actually created an incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of car accidents.

That loophole has now been closed.

With the passage of House Bill 1084 – signed by the Governor on June 6, 2012 – the new law increases the possible penalties for leaving the scene of a serious bodily injury crash from a class 5 felony to a class 4 making it equivalent to possible penalties for drunk driving.

End the Incentive to Flee

The old Colorado law gave drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, an incentive to not stop at the scene of a crash and call for help of injured people. It benefited drunk drivers with a lesser range of penalties for fleeing the scene and trying to hide out until they are sober. The consequence of this loophole at times might mean the life or death of someone needing immediate medical attention at the scene of a crash.

H. Michael’s Take:

Defending The Hit and Run Case In Colorado

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Defending The Hit and Run Case In Colorado

Defending a hit and run charge can be very difficult for several reasons.

First, because you left the scene of the accident, the police or law enforcement officials may presume you were guilty of causing the accident in its entirety, since fleeing the scene suggests guilt.

Second, if you contact your insurance company and admit to the hit and run in order to get them to pay your damages from a civil lawsuit, the police can use the information in those insurance files against you in a criminal case.

Defending Against the Charges

There are a limited array of defenses you have when charged with hit and run. Generally, you can try to introduce reasonable doubt as to whether you in fact committed the hit and run in the first place. If the police have your license plate number or information, however, this defense may not be successful as the District Attorney may be able to prove you were at the scene.

If the police are aware that you were at the scene, your lawyer can attempt to prove that the accident was not your fault. While this may not help you avoid charges of fleeing the scene of the accident, it can help to avoid other charges if the police believe you fled the scene due to intoxication.

Mounting a Defense

Generally, there are several things you can do to defend yourself against hit and run charges.

•You can bring in experts to help reconstruct the scene of the accident.

•You can try to provide evidence tat you didn’t actually cause the accident, or that there were intervening factors that led to the collision.

•You can also try to prove that there were exigent circumstances leading up to the accident or explaining why you left the scene. This may not help you to be absolved of the criminal charges entirely, but it may lessen the severity of your sentence.