A woman in Rio Grande County, Colorado was arrested for DUI and hit and run after crashing her sport utility vehicle into a herd of sheep, striking 50 of them. Her front license plate fell off of her vehicle during the incident, allowing police to locate her.
Initial reports stated that 38 sheep had died and 12 were injured. However, 42 sheep had died at last count.
Hit and Run, DUI Accidents, and Property Damage
While this woman will very likely suffer legal consequences for the damage, she is lucky that no human beings were injured or killed. Although it is tragic for a large number of animals to die senselessly, the law treats domesticated animals and livestock as property. This will be handled in the same way as if the driver had struck a parked vehicle. Failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving property damage is a Class 2 traffic misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Additional penalties such as restitution and community service may be ordered by thecourt as well depending on the damage.
Animals and Drunk Drivers
In rural regions such as this, it is not uncommon for grazing animals to enter the roadway. Legally, striking an animal that suddenly enters the road is not generally deemed the driver’s fault. However, if the accident occurred due to a lack of caution or attentiveness, the driver will be found at fault.
In this case, the driver will be hard pressed to escape blame. There was a large herd of sheep that should have been obviously visible upon approach, signaling caution. Even if they suddenly all rushed into the road at once, that is something the driver should have anticipated. Secondly, the fact that she continued after striking the first one is a very damning fact. Even if the first collision was not the driver’s fault, this should have put her on notice of the danger and caused her to stop. To continue to drive right through the herd of sheep, striking dozens more of them, manifests reckless disregard in the extreme. The fact that she left the scene will obviously not help her case either. Nor will the fact that she was allegedly drunk.
Contact a Colorado DUI Defense Attorney
We always advise our clients against fleeing the scene of an accident—even a small one. Even if you are likely to be arrested after an accident for some reason, you will likely only make things worse if you leave the scene. Even if you’ve only caused property damage, the best thing to do is to stay put, report the accident, and call an attorney. At the Tiftickjian Law Firm we work solely in criminal and DUI defense. We know how to assess your case and come up with your best defenses.