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Road rage: Colorado vet denied entry to diversionary program

A sad reality that occasionally surfaces on Colorado roadways and elsewhere across the United States is road rage, which can lead to truly dire results for both offenders and victims.

The sources of road rage are understandably many and complex, ranging from sheer uncontrolled anger to more subtle issues linked with mental health impairments. Given such variance, authorities have long concluded that a one-size-fits-all criminal law response to road rage incidents is an inappropriate strategy.

Enter the Colorado Veterans Trauma Court (VTC). As noted on a state website, that judicial tool provides for an other-than-incarceration outcome to veterans and active-duty military members "with disorders and/or substance abuse issues who have proven to be high risk and high need."

Arguably, that fit the description of a reported Colorado combat veteran who recently broke the nose of another driver following an anger-driven road incident. The encounter occurred in El Paso County near Colorado Springs.

Although entry to the El Paso VTC was requested, a state judge recently refused the veteran's petition, following prosecutors' stated resistance to it.

A trial on the matter is now slated for early next year. The vet faces multiple criminal counts, including one felony assault charge that often yields a prison term of several years.

The El Paso VTC was established back in 2009, being the first court of its kind in Colorado. The Colorado Judicial Branch cites on the aforementioned website a number of demonstrated benefits that flow from program participation.

Among those are reduced recidivism rates for offenders and discernibly lower costs to taxpayers than those expended in prison lockups.

Offenders must qualify for such programs. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can help them do so.

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