Vehicular Assault

Morley Swingle delivering the closing argument in the Ryan T. Patterson murder trial.
Morley Swingle delivering the closing argument in the Ryan T. Patterson murder trial.

Vehicular assault is a tragedy for everyone concerned. No drunk driver ever got behind the steering wheel of a car and decided, “I’m going to drive drunk and hurt someone.” This felony can be committed by anyone, from any economic background, and by a person with any level of education. When this crime is charged, a victim has been physically injured in a crash, and the prosecutor believes the crash was caused by the negligence of a drunk driver. In these cases, the lives of both the victim and the accused will never be the same, whether or not the accused is convicted.

Vehicular assault (C.R.S. Section 18-3-205) and vehicular homicide (C.R.S. Section 18-3-106) are the most serious alcohol-related driving offenses. Convicted defendants often end up going to prison. Victims sometimes die.

The best defense in a vehicular assault case requires early involvement by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Witnesses who can testify that you did not appear to be intoxicated need to be located and interviewed while memories are still fresh. Experts who can question the accuracy of scientific testing done by the state’s experts need to be contacted as soon as possible. Photographs of crash scenes and damaged cars need to be taken before the evidence is lost. An accident reconstruction expert you hire may need to look at your car (and examine things like the brakes and the “black box”) before the car is hauled off to the junkyard.

The best defense in a vehicular assault case often involves having your criminal defense lawyer litigate a pretrial motion to suppress evidence, such as BAC test results or poor performance on field sobriety tests.

Morley Swingle has litigated many vehicular assault and homicide cases. As a prosecutor, he repeatedly won prosecutor of the year awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving organizations in Missouri. He has completed the “Lethal Weapon” course sponsored by the National District Attorneys Association that teaches prosecutors how to prosecute drunk-driving fatalities. He has taught seminars for prosecutors and defense lawyers on litigating drunk driving cases. He has published articles dealing with issues related to vehicular assaults, including:

(1) H. M. Swingle, “Blood Draws & Drunk Drivers in Colorado,” ___ Colo. Law. ___ (2014) (accepted for publication in the February issue).
(2) H. M. Swingle & Lane P. Thomasson, “Beam Me Up: Upgrading Search Warrants With Technology,” 69 J. Mo. Bar 16 (2013).
(3) H.M. Swingle, “Drug Recognition Experts in Missouri,” 66 J. Mo. Bar 250 (2010).
(4) H.M. Swingle, “Criminal Investigative Subpoenas: How to Get Them, How to Fight Them,” 54 J. Mo. Bar 15 (1998).

If you are charged with a vehicular assault or a vehicular homicide, the lawyers at Parker Lawyers will help you defend yourself. Call Parker Lawyers at (303) 841-9525.