H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years 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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Boulder Colorado Vehicular Assault Case May End Up With “Upped” Charges To Vehicular Homicide

The Boulder Diagonal Highway was the scene of a devastating accident involving a driver going the wrong way and allegedly under the influence at the time.

Dean Carlson was bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing in a Boulder County courtroom. Carlson’s vehicle crashed head on into and an oncoming car and injuring two people — including one man who is not expected to survive.

The Colorado Crimes Charged At This Point – Is Vehicular Assault 18-3-205

Carlson is presently charged with two counts of vehicular assault while driving under the influence – a Class 4 felony — and two counts of vehicular assault — a Class 5 felony.

He is also charged with DUI and several other traffic offenses of a less serious nature
(reckless driving and driving down the wrong side of a divided highway).

The evidence in the case – admitted at a recent preliminary hearing – established that the passenger in the other vehicle – Yaris, Daniel Mays, 28, of Westminster, suffered severe brain injuries in the accident, is currently in a coma at Denver Medical Health Center and is not expected to survive.

Possible Charges Of Vehicular Homicide

If the alleged victim dies – then DA Garnett will most likely “… re-evaluate the evidence to see if vehicular homicide charges would be warranted,”

“I’ve talked about the concern for public safety and the impact these multiple DUI offenders present. These types of issues are a top priority.” Garnett said.

The Anatomy Of A Vehicular Assault Case

At the Preliminary Hearing – evidence was admitted that:

‘Overwhelming’ odor of alcohol

Carlson swerved to the right and then back to the left in an effort to avoid Carlson’s car before he ultimately struck the Yaris on the front right side. Petty said it is believed neither car was speeding before the accident.

Firefighters responding to the scene found Carlson in the passenger seat of his car and did not find signs of anybody else in the vehicle, according to Petty. Troopers noticed an “overwhelming” odor of alcohol, and Petty said he could still smell alcohol on Carlson when he interviewed him nine hours later.

Prior Record For DUI’s

Carlson has three prior DUI convictions on his record. He was convicted of DUI in 1992 in New York, and in 2005 and 2010 in Texas. He had just gotten his driving privileges back in Texas from his 2010 DUI conviction.

“Bad” Or Reckless Driving – Wrong Side of The Road

Petty said Carlson initially believed Balog had come into his lane before being told he was on a divided highway. The two directions of the Diagonal Highway are separated by a depressed grassy median at the location of the accident.

“Driving down the wrong side of a divided highway, it doesn’t get more reckless than that,” Deputy District Attorney Fred Johnson told the judge.

Evidence of Prior Drinking – Statements as Admissions Of Alcohol Intoxication

(or… Why you should always keep our mouth shut in a criminal investigation)

Carlson initially told investigators he had about three beers before the crash, but later told Petty he believed he had 10 or 12, and likely more, according to testimony. He told investigators he had flown into Denver on July 20 for business and to pick up some of his son’s belongings and ship them back to Texas.

Petty said Carlson recalled having a few drinks at Old Chicago on Pearl Street around 7 p.m. before wandering around Pearl Street and drinking at various bars until closing time. Carlson told investigators that between the time the bars closed at 2 a.m. and the time of the accident around 4 a.m., he believes he was driving around lost while trying to find his hotel in Westminster.

Physical Evidence of Drinking

Investigators did find receipts for three drinks at Old Chicago, but Petty said they are still trying to determine where else on Pearl Street Carlson was drinking to see whether investigators can determine when and how much Carlson drank.

H. Michael’s Take

To defend these cases – which are often charged in the alternative – Alcohol Drug Driving Vehicular Assault AND/OR Reckless Driving / Vehicular Assault.

What is unknown at this point – are any possible defenses related to Carlson’s actual blood alcohol level at the time of the accident, the functioning of the vehicle, and other accident reconstruction issues.

For a comprehensive review of the law and tactics in Colorado Vehicular Assault cases – please click HERE which will take you to one of my other web sites dealing with these issues:

And to read more about this case attribution is made to the in the Denver Post – and here is a link to the original article – Colorado State Patrol: Victim in Diagonal wrong-way DUI crash not expected to survive – The Denver Post