If you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident in which a vehicle is damaged or someone is injured or killed, it is important to know that Colorado law requires you to immediately stop at, or return to, the scene of the accident.
If you fail to do so, prosecutors may charge you as a hit-and-run driver under Colorado’s “leaving-the-scene-of-an-accident” law. However, the severity of the penalties a person may face largely depends on the specific circumstances of the accident. For instance:
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which property is damaged is a class 2 misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone is injured is a class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone suffers a serious bodily injury is a class 4 felony, with a maximum penalty of six years in jail and a $500,000 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone is killed is a class 3 felony, with a maximum penalty of 12 years in jail and a $750,000 fine.
In addition to the charges listed above, an individual can face even more criminal penalties for failing to report an accident to police, which is a class 2 misdemeanor under Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1606.
It is important to note, however, that a person cannot be charged with leaving the scene of an accident if, after exchanging information and providing necessary aid, they leave to report the accident in accordance with CRS 42-4-1606 — although they may need to return to the scene if directed to do so by police.