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Breckenridge Hit-and-Run Defense Lawyers

Defense Against Charges of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Summit County

Every state in the U.S. has laws against leaving the scene of an accident, and Colorado is no exception. Any driver who is directly involved in an accident resulting in property damage, injury, serious bodily injury, or death of any person is required to stop and remain at the scene, without obstructing traffic, until certain requirements are fulfilled. Failure to do so is a criminal offense. A hit and run in Summit County may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of injuries caused by the crash.

Meaning of Injury and Serious Bodily Injury

The Colorado statute defines the terms “injury” and “serious bodily injury” as they apply to hit and run accidents:

  • Injury means “. . . physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition.”
  • Serious bodily injury means “. . . injury that involves, either at the time of the actual injury or a later time, a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.”

Penalties for Hit and Run in Colorado

Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding a particular case. A major factor in severity of penalties is how much harm was caused by the accident.

  • Property damage: When the crash caused property damage only, hit and run is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, this offense carries penalties of up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
  • Injury: Leaving the scene of an accident becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor if the accident caused injury, as defined above, to any person involved. In this case, penalties may include a jail sentence of up to 18 months and $5,000 in fines.
  • Serious bodily injury: Hit and run is charged as a Class 5 felony if the wreck caused serious bodily injury to any person. This carries possible penalties of up to three years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
  • Death: Leaving the scene of an accident is most serious when the crash results in someone’s death. The crime is charged as a Class 3 felony, with penalties that may include a prison sentence of up to 12 years and fines of up to $750,000.

Penalties could be more severe if alcohol or drugs were a factor. If you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident, your driver’s license will be revoked. You could also face a civil personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim.

Common Defenses Against Hit and Run

The best defense strategy in your case will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Common defenses for hit and run include the following:

  • Defendant was not aware that an accident occurred. (This could happen if someone driving a large vehicle collided with a pedestrian or bicyclist in the dark.)
  • Defendant did not realize the accident caused property damage or injury.
  • Defendant left the scene to respond to an emergency (such as driving to a hospital for medical treatment).
  • Defendant was not actually driving the car at the time of the accident.

Our Breckenridge hit-and-run defense lawyers at Whitaker & Penix, LLC are familiar with the possible legal defenses against charges of hit and run. We are trial specialists in all types of criminal cases, with years of experience on both the defense and prosecution sides of the courtroom. Call our Summit County criminal attorneys at (970) 368-0602 if you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. We can explain your options under the law.