On Friday May 8, the last counties in Colorado with active stay-at-home orders allowed those orders to expire, transitioning instead to safer-at-home orders in line with the rest of the state. As these restrictions loosen, more people are expected to be out and about in the coming weeks. Many of them may be on the road for the first time in weeks and others may have picked up a habit of aggressive driving on the relatively clear roads left behind during the pandemic. Therefore, it’s important for drivers to remind themselves about the traffic laws in Colorado before they hit the roads.
First: a reminder of how most traffic infractions are penalized. Each license in Colorado has an accompanying point total. Each time a driver commits a moving violation, a certain number of points is added to their license. If a driver earns twelve points in twelve months or eighteen points in twenty-four months, the state can suspend their license.
Speeding is one of the most common moving violations. It’s easy to be tempted by the relatively open roadways during the current pandemic, but speeding violations are still dangerous and can stack up quickly.
(1) A ticket for driving ten or more miles over the speed limit results in a penalty of four points added to the offender’s license. Just three of these tickets in a year can result in a suspended license.
(2) A ticket for driving twenty or more miles over the speed limit results in a penalty of six points added to the offender’s license. Just two of these tickets in a year can result in a suspended license.
(3) Once speed equals or exceeds twenty-five miles over the speed limit, the conviction becomes a traffic misdemeanor.
Another of the most common moving violations is using a telephone while driving. As a reminder, according to C.R.S. 42-4-239, it is illegal for a driver over 18 to use their phone to text or manually enter any other data. This ticket carries a penalty of four points added to a driver’s license and a fine of $300.
According to C.R.S. 42-4-1401, a driver commits reckless driving if they operate a vehicle with willful disregard for property or others on the road. This ticket carries eight points added to the offender’s license. For repeat offenders, the point penalty is also accompanied by a fine between $50 and $1,000 and/or jail time between 10 and 180 days.
One of the most dangerous ways to operate a vehicle is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and according to C.R.S. 42-4-1301, doing so is illegal. This conviction is a real misdemeanor, not just a traffic misdemeanor, meaning it must be listed on things like job applications that exempt traffic offenses. It carries a twelve point penalty, enough to result in the immediate suspension of the offender’s license. It also carries a potential fine of up to $1,000 and potential jail time of up to one year. The penalties for each subsequent DUI increase in severity, and when an offender’s is convicted for their fourth DUI, the crime becomes a felony. This crime is, under every circumstance, one of the most serious and most dangerous.
One Final Note
Remember, these are only the penalties if nothing goes wrong while the offender commits a moving violation. The penalties for a driver can be significantly more severe if their actions result in property damage, bodily injury, or the death of a person. For more, see Krizman Law’s earlier blog post regarding Vehicular Homicide in Colorado.
These crimes must be taken seriously since they have a lot of potential to cause severe unintended consequences for the driver and all those around them. Not only that, but they are strict liability crimes meaning, “I didn’t mean to do it!” is not a valid defense. Please be responsible as you begin to drive more after the end of the stay-at-home orders, and as always, if you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, DWAI, vehicular homicide, or other severe traffic crime or needs a relentless Denver criminal defense attorney for any other reason, contact Krizman Law right now at 303.529.2677.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Call him today at 720.819.7317.