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What Are Colorado Traffic Court Records?

Colorado traffic court records are the legal documents and case files created from the proceedings of moving violation and non-moving violation cases heard in Colorado. Under the Colorado Motor Vehicle Code, these records are generated and disseminated to interested and eligible members of the public on request.

Are Colorado Traffic Court Records Public Records?

The public access to information law guarantees all court records may be accessed and viewed by members of the public as they constitute public records, and traffic court records in Colorado fall under this designation. Only records that have had access restricted by a judge are exempt from public viewing.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Colorado

A traffic violation in Colorado can be either an infraction or an offense, and tickets are issued for either occurrence. A Colorado Uniform Traffic Summons and Complaint is a computer-generated long-form ticket issued for traffic violations by law enforcement officers. It represents a sworn statement from the officer attesting to the alleged infringement, as observed by the officer. It may be completed by the office and may contain information about the defendant, including full name, date of birth, social security number, telephone number, and address (work and home). The ticket may also contain information about the vehicle involved in the violation and details about the driver's license. A date for the court appearance may be indicated along with the location of the designated court and the date and time of the scheduled appearance. The charges being cited for may be listed along with a description of the charge and, if relevant, fine amounts. The location, with time and date, of the violation, may also be included on the ticket. The officer may indicate if the citation is a payable or non-payable summons, the difference being a non-payable summons may not have fine amounts stated and may require a mandatory court appearance. These are usually reserved for traffic offenses. The offender may sign in this section to signify acknowledgment and a promise to pay the fine or appear in court. Failure to do so could result in your arrest. The officer may sign the ticket before issuing you your copy. The ticket may have instructions for responding on the reverse side.

All traffic violations in Colorado come with a fine if convicted. However, they can also come to include added penalties and court fees, points may be added to the offender's driving record, and that can end up in a license suspension by the Colorado Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). Fines are determined by the court, so it may vary by violation and possibly location.

Generally, traffic violations and infractions in Colorado are categorized as moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws violated by a motor vehicle, while in motion. Non-moving violations are parking or faulty vehicle equipment violations. A Non-moving violation can occur when the car is in motion but may be differentiated in its treatment of the courts and the Colorado Department of Revenue. Non-moving violations are not reported to the Motor Vehicles Division (MVD) and may not appear on your driving record.

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Colorado?

When you receive a traffic ticket in Colorado, you are expected to respond by:

  • Paying the traffic ticket.
  • Requesting to contest or hearing

This may be done within 20 days of the infraction date. A court appearance is mandatory if the ticket is designated as a non-payable summons and the officer fills in the court where you are to appear.

Electing to pay your fine is a guilty plea to the charge and is viewed as an agreement to accept responsibility for the violation and all associated penalties, including all fines, fees, and surcharges. You have waived your right to a hearing to contest the ticket. It may be noted as a conviction on your record and points may be added on your driving record.

  • If the ticket is a payable summons, a court appearance is not required. You can pay in person at the court clerk's office, via mail, by telephone, online at the court website, or by drop-box at the court premises. Payment may be made in full before the scheduled court appearance date to eliminate the need to appear.
  • If the ticket is a non-payable summons, then a court appearance is mandatory, and you may appear on the scheduled date, change your appearance date, or risk arrest. The first appearance (arraignment) may be where you pay the fine and any additional penalties. This may be seen as a conviction, and points may be added to your driving record.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in Colorado

Choosing to request a hearing indicates your intention to contest the ticket by requesting a hearing in front of a judge. If it is a traffic infraction, a court magistrate might hear the case.

Appear in court on the scheduled date to inform the court of your plea and have a hearing (arraignment). You may be afforded the chance to meet with the prosecutor and may be offered a plea bargain. You are not required to accept it and if you choose not to, a future date may be set for the trial.

What to Expect in Colorado Traffic Court

  • You may have to prepare your defense and should consider professional representation.
  • If you are not found guilty by the court, charges against you may be dropped, you may be free of all fines and points may not be added to your driving record. However, you may have to clear court costs.
  • If you are found guilty, then you may be deemed liable for all punishments as dictated by the court and these could include fines, license points and even jail time, depending on the severity of the charge.

If you cannot make the court appearance date, you can reschedule your date. This may require a physical appearance at the court clerk's office before the scheduled day to obtain a new date. A failure to appear on a court appearance date without notice may result in a default verdict being reached, for which you are liable.

How Do I Find Colorado Traffic Court Records?

Traffic court records may be available on the county court's website. Otherwise, physical access to traffic court records can be attained by visiting the county court clerk's office and filing an official request to access the physical copies of the requisite court records. It is also possible to find traffic records on third-party websites.

Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties may provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question, such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

What Information is Required to Obtain Colorado Traffic Court Records?

If you are interested in obtaining traffic court records, you may be required to provide information about the required court record, including full name, date of birth, and social security number. You may also need to physically visit the court office where the records are being stored and provide a valid ID for verification. A fee might also be charged to facilitate the provision of the records, especially if copies are required. Records can be requested as an abbreviated or complete abstract if so required.

Are all Traffic Violations Handled the Same Way in Colorado?

While the fines, penalties, and points may differ for traffic infractions and offenses, in Colorado, the procedures for responding to a traffic violation citation are usually the same, regardless of the category of the citation.

Can Colorado Traffic Records be Sealed or Expunged?

In Colorado, while it is possible to seal or expunge certain specific criminal records, including municipal violations and petty offenses, it is not possible to seal Class A or Class B traffic infractions, DUI convictions or convictions involving the holder of a commercial driver's license or the operator of a commercial motor vehicle.

How Does One End up in a Colorado Traffic Court?

To appear in Colorado traffic court, one may receive a traffic citation ticket from a law enforcement officer. It is designated as a non-payable summons, which requires a mandatory court appearance on the scheduled date, whether the defendant decides to plead guilty or not.

One can similarly end up in traffic court if the ticket issued is designated as a payable summons (which does not require a court appearance). Still, the defendant wishes to contest the ticket and fight the charges.

Which Courts in Colorado have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation matters?

In Colorado, traffic cases are divided into civil and criminal violations, and the defendant, depending on the jurisdiction where the violation occurred, may be charged under state law/statutes or municipal ordinances. Violations of state law/statutes may be heard in the county court, while violations of municipal ordinances may be heard in municipal court. Offenses under state law are usually misdemeanors, but if a felony is involved, the case may be transferred to the district court.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in Colorado

Preparing for traffic court in Colorado requires understanding the specific laws and procedures of the state. Begin by reviewing your citation thoroughly to understand the charges against you and the potential consequences. Research Colorado's traffic laws relevant to your case and consider seeking legal advice from a traffic attorney who can provide guidance and representation. Gather any evidence or witnesses that may support your defense.

Colorado Traffic Court Records
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  • And More!