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Deadly traffic violation leads to stricter law in Colorado

Traffic accidents happen all of the time in Colorado. They can lead to injuries, traffic citations and even more serious criminal allegations against drivers. In the case of a recent hit-and-run in Denver, a fatal accident inspired the creation of a new, harsher traffic law.

On May 31, a University of Denver student was killed in a car accident. He was crossing the street when a driver crashed into him and then left the scene of the accident. The 45-year-old driver was eventually identified, arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death and vehicular homicide.

The fatal accident means more than criminal consequences for the particular driver in this Denver case. It also means changes for the entire Colorado population of drivers. Lawmakers were reportedly inspired by the May accident and pressed forward to create stricter legislation regarding hit-and-run accidents.

Those lawmakers succeeded in their effort. Beginning on Aug. 7, those who are convicted of hit-and-run involving serious bodily injury or death will be at risk of facing more serious legal penalties. The conviction would be on the same severity level as a DUI.

Supporters of the hit-and-run bill see the upcoming change in the traffic laws as fixing a loophole that has existed for drivers who cause an accident and then flee. Currently and until the new law takes effect later this summer, drivers who leave the scene of an accident are sentenced less harshly than those who stay around the crash scene.

The trial for the vehicular homicide/hit-and-run case that supported the bill started today. Due to timing, harsher sentencing that is mandated by the upcoming law change most likely won't affect this case should the defendant be found guilty.

Source: 9News, "After fatal hit-and-run wreck near DU campus, a hit-and-run bill signed into law," Blair Shiff, June 6, 2012

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