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Colorado Criminal Defense: You Must Provide Certain Information Before Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Under Colorado law, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident resulting in injuries or damage to others without first giving the driver’s name, address, and registration number of the vehicle, in addition to providing a driver’s license if requested.

The driver must also render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident, and then report the accident to the police if no police are present.

The seriousness of the offense depends on the extent of injuries suffered by others in the accident.

Purpose of the Law Prohibiting Leaving the Scene of an Accident without Providing Information

The purpose of this law is to promote driver responsibility.

The concern of the legislature in enacting this law was with identifying drivers involved in an accident.

A Driver Must Identify Himself or Herself as the Driver

While the statute does not expressly say that the driver must identify himself or herself as actually being the driver of the vehicle, the Colorado Supreme Court has held that the driver is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident if the driver does not first identify himself or herself as actually being the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident, unless is readily apparent from the circumstances.

The Colorado Supreme Court held that this requirement is implicit in the statute requiring the driver to provide his or her name, address, and registration number of the vehicle involved in the accident.

The Court said that the name and address of a person under this statute is only relevant if the person is the driver, and therefore it is clear the person must also identify himself or herself as the driver.

Where the identity of the driver is not obvious, if the driver merely provides his or her contact information without stating that he or she is the driver, or falsely states that someone else is the driver, he or she has committed a crime.

In many circumstances, however, the identity of the driver will be obvious, and therefore he or she need only provide the other required information, but need not specifically state that he or she was the driver.

Strict Liability

This law is one that imposes strict liability on the driver. This means that the intentions or purpose of the driver in leaving the scene of the accident without identifying himself or herself are generally irrelevant.

In other words, in order to be guilty of a violation of this law, a driver does not have to intend to leave the scene of the accident without providing identification, it only has to occur.

The Colorado Supreme Court, however, was not worried that driver’s would believe their identity to be obvious when it was not, and thereby accidentally violate that statute. The Court said that presumably, officers who faced ambiguous circumstances would provide a driver with the opportunity to identify himself or herself as such.

MASTERSON HALL, P.C.
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