Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
If you are driving in Denver, Colorado and have a collision with another vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or property (such as a mailbox or gate), you have the following five duties:
Stop and park your car as quickly and nearby as you safely can.
If anyone is injured, render reasonable assistance. An example would be calling 911.
Trade your contact information and insurance information with the other parties involved in the collision.
If the car or other property you hit was unattended, try to find the owner. Otherwise, affix a conspicuous note to the property (such as on the windshield) with your contact information and car registration.
4 to 12 years in prison and/or $3,000 to $750,000, and
6 month-to-1 year revocation of your driver’s license 2
Note that fleeing may cause you to pick up other charges as well, such as speeding, running a red light or running a stop sign.
3. You can fight Denver hit and run charges
Getting arrested for hit and run is only the beginning of a case. It may be possible to persuade the D.A. to lessen or even dismiss the charges without having to go to trial.
Five potential defenses to Denver hit and run criminal charges are:
The collision caused no physical injuries and no damage to property.
You genuinely did not know that you were in a collision. For example, you were listening to loud music and could not hear that you tapped another car’s bumper.
You sustained physical injuries from the crash and were therefore in no condition to call the police or render aid.
You were justified in leaving the scene of an accident. An example is that your phone was not working, and you needed to find help.
You are being falsely accused.
As with any criminal case, the D.A. has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to meet this burden, then your Denver hit and run case should be dropped.3
4. Police will probably find you if you leave the scene of an accident
If you flee the scene of a car crash, chances are high that you will be found. Police officers usually have an abundance of evidence leading to you, such as:
photographs of your car and license plate taken by the other involved parties
surveillance video from traffic cameras
testimony from accident reconstruction experts
In most Denver hit and run cases, prosecutors have one year after the incident to file charges against you. Though if someone sustained serious but non-fatal injuries, the D.A. has three years to bring charges.
If the accident resulted in a fatality, prosecutors have five years after the case to charge you. Though if the D.A. believes you also committed vehicular homicide (by driving recklessly or while under the influence), then prosecutors have a ten-yearstatute of limitations to file charges against you.4
5. Most hit and run convictions cannot be sealed
In Colorado, convictions for traffic misdemeanors cannot be sealed. Therefore, you cannot seal convictions for:
hit and run of unattended property
hit and run causing only property damage
hit and run causing non-serious injury
Colorado law also prohibits class 3 felony convictions from being sealed. This means fatal DUI convictions are always unsealable.
The only Denver hit and run conviction that is potentially sealable is if the incident resulted in a serious but not fatal injury. Though you would need to wait three years after the case ends before petitioning for a seal.
Note that any Denver hit and run case can be sealed if the charge gets dismissed.5
Fatal hit and runs are prosecuted as felonies in Colorado.
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.