Traffic offenses range from infractions to misdemeanors. Aside from the court costs and fines that may be imposed, points are assessed against your driving privilege and some traffic offenses are punishable by jail time. A traffic ticket may not seem like a big deal, but it can be. Discussing your situation with an attorney will help ensure that you know the consequences beforehand rather than trying to fix a problem after the fact.
Every person in Colorado has a privilege to drive regardless of whether they have a driver’s license. Points are assessed against a person’s driving privilege. A driver’s age determines how many points a driver gets before his or her privilege to drive gets suspended.
An adult, meaning someone 21 years of age or older may have their license suspended if he or she has
- been convicted of traffic violations of 12 or more points within any 12 consecutive months OR
- 18 points or more within any 24 consecutive months.
A minor driver who is 18 years or older may have their license suspended if he or she has accumulated
- more than nine points in 12 consecutive months OR
- 12 points or more within 24 consecutive months OR
- 14 points accumulated after reaching the age of eighteen.
A minor driver under the age of 18 may have their license suspended if he or she has accumulated
- six points within any 12 consecutive months OR
- seven points or more prior to reaching the age of eighteen.
For some low level traffic violations, such as speeding, you may be issued a ticket or summons and given the opportunity to simply pay the ticket without going to court. Before you pay the ticket, it is important to know how many points will be assessed against your driving privilege because it may be worth the time to actually appear in court.
Some traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors or habitual (major) traffic offenses. If a driver accumulates too many major offenses, the right to drive can be revoked for a period of 5 years. Some of these offenses are:
- Careless Driving
- Reckless Driving
- Hit & Run
- Driving Under Revocation, Restraint, Suspension or Denial (DUR or DUS)
- Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO or DARP)
Careless driving is often be cited when there is an accident. Careless driving causing injury and careless driving causing death are more serious then a simple careless driving charge. When there is an injury or death, the court may sentence up to one year in jail.
Reckless driving is an habitual traffic offense. If you accumulate too many habitual traffic offenses in too short a period of time, you will be designated a habitual traffic offender which will result in a lengthy revocation of your driving privilege. If you have a prior reckless driving conviction on your record, a second conviction subjects you to up to 6 months in jail.
Hit and run is an habitual traffic offense and may be punishable by jail and even prison time. When you are involved in an accident, it is your duty as a driver to remain on-scene. If you do not remain on-scene, you can be charged with leaving the scene of the accident. If there are any injuries, it is considered a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense. If the injuries are serious bodily injury or if there is a death, it is a felony.
If your driving privilege is revoked, suspended or denied, it is important to determine the reason for the revocation, suspension or denial because the reason impacts the possible penalties.
There are three basic reasons your driving privilege may be revoked, suspended, or denied:
- Alcohol- or drug-related restraint, such as a restraint for a DUI conviction.
- Non-alcohol related restraint, such as a restraint because you have too many points assessed against your driving privilege.
- Financial responsibility restraints, such as a restraint because you are behind on child support payments or have outstanding fines or costs.
A person commits the offense of driving under restraint (DUR) or driving under suspension (DUS) if he or she operates a motor vehicle with knowledge that his or her privilege to drive is revoked, suspended or denied. For purposes of DUR and DUS, you do not need to have actual knowledge of the restraint. For example, if the prosecution can prove that the DMV sent you documentation of the revocation, suspension, or denial, that is sufficient. This is called constructive knowledge.
Regardless of the reason for the revocation, suspension or denial, DUR and DUS are unclassified misdemeanors. However, the reason for the revocation, suspension, or denial determines the possible penalties for any conviction.
In addition to the criminal consequences, there are collateral consequences at DMV. If you are convicted of DUR or DUS, DMV will extend the time of the restraint on your driving privilege and DUR and DUS are habitual traffic offenses. Because there are many consequences to being convicted for DUR or DUS, it is important to consult with an attorney to discuss your options.
A person commits the crime of driving after revocation prohibited (DARP), which is also commonly referred to as driving as a habitual traffic offender (HTO), if the person drives when his or her driving privilege is revoked for being a habitual traffic offender and he or she has actual knowledge that their privilege is revoked. There are certain types of traffic misdemeanors that are habitual traffic offenses. In order to be classified as a habitual traffic offender, a person must commit a certain number of habitual traffic offenses within a certain period of time. Some examples of habitual traffic offenses include:
- Alcohol or drug related driving offenses (DUI or DWAI)
- Reckless driving
- Careless driving causing injury or death
- Driving under revocation, suspension, or denial
DARP or HTO is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by:
- A minimum mandatory 30 days in county jail OR minimum $3,000 fine OR both
- A suspension by the court of all or part of the minimum jail and/or fine upon successful completion of community service hours
- No less than 40 hours and no more than 300 hours of community service
Aggravated driving after revocation prohibited is a class 6 felony punishable by one year to 18 months prison and/or a $1,000 to $100,000 fine. A person commits aggravated driving after revocation prohibited if he or she is driving while his or her privilege is revoked for being a habitual traffic offender, had actual knowledge that his or her privilege was revoked and, during the same criminal episode, committed one of the following offenses:
- DUI, DUI per se or DWAI
- Reckless driving
- Eluding or attempting to elude a police officer
- Vehicular eluding
- Hit & Run
Driving after revocation prohibited not only has serious criminal consequences, but also carries consequences. If you are convicted of DARP or HTO or aggravated DARP or HTO, DMV will extend the revocation of your driving privilege.