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What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions in Colorado?

In Colorado, under Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, traffic violations and infractions are punishable misconducts. Furthermore, Colorado traffic violations are designated as either misdemeanors, felonies, petty offenses, or infractions. They attract various penalties in the form of jail time, payment of fine, demerit points, license suspension, or other punishments deemed applicable by the Colorado Court System.

As stated in Title 42–4–1701 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, are any acts against the traffic laws that are not deemed a felony or misdemeanor. Infractions are addressed as minor misdeeds of non-criminal nature and are resolved by the payment of a fine without any jail sentences. In addition, a traffic infraction does not necessitate a court appearance unless the infraction is contested or the violating motorist is under 18 years of age. For traffic offenses committed by minors, a court appearance with the offender’s parent or legal guardian is mandatory. Colorado traffic infractions are classified into Class A and Class B infractions, with Class A infractions being the more serious.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations in Colorado?

Felony traffic violations are the most severe traffic violation a motorist can commit and are more serious than a traffic misdemeanor. Additionally, felony traffic violations attract much stiffer punishment than any other form of traffic law violations. Punishments meted out include sentencing to one or more years in a state’s correctional facility, license suspension, and fine payments. A traffic violation becomes a felony if grievous injury or death is caused by a motorist’s reckless driving, either through willful negligence or while the driver is under the influence of any mentally-impairing substance.

Repeated crimes can also have a profound effect on sentencing. Two previous convictions of serious felonies will tag a violator as a habitual offender. A third conviction will result in a life imprisonment sentence, which is more than the actual penalty for the crime. This is referred to as the Three Strikes Law.

Colorado uses a class system of 1 to 6 to categorize felonies, with an additional class designated “unclassified” for unique cases.

  • Class 1 felonies: Punishments include life imprisonment and the death penalty. However, there’s usually no fine attached to the offenses in Class 1 felonies.
  • Class 2 felonies: Judgment issued include 8 years imprisonment or more with an additional fine of $1,000,000 or less.
  • Class 3 felonies: Penalties for Class 3 felonies are 4 years incarceration or more and an added maximum fine of $750,000.
  • Class 4 felonies: Offenders are liable to be in prison for 2 years or more with an additional maximum fine of $500,000.
  • Class 5 felonies: Sentences include 1 to 4 years confinement in prison and violators will be asked to pay a $100,000 fine or less.
  • Class 6 felonies: Carries the lowest sentencing of a maximum of 18 months and a minimum of one-year detention. Also, a maximum fine of $100,000 will be paid by the offender.

The punishment for an unclassified felony is meted out as specified in the statute under Title 18 of The Colorado Revised Statutes.

Examples of Felony Traffic Violations in Colorado?

Below is a list of some felony traffic violations in Colorado;

  • Driving as a habitual offender and causing damage to life or property.
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident, which resulted in grievous injury or a fatality.
  • Hit and run.
  • Driving under the dominance of alcohol or drugs.
  • Vehicular homicide.
  • Vehicular assault.

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors in Colorado?

Traffic misdemeanors in Colorado are violations of Colorado traffic laws, which constitute a criminal charge against the violator but are not considered as felonies. Traffic misdemeanors are less severe than traffic felonies. The violations do not involve fatalities or grievous injury but are still severe enough to warrant jail term if the offender is convicted. Some traffic misdemeanors include reckless driving, engaging in illegal races, and driving without a valid driver’s license. Traffic misdemeanors in Colorado have two classes; Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 misdemeanors are more serious charges than Class 2 misdemeanors and can lead to lengthy jail time and a hefty fine if a conviction is achieved.

Generally, the punishment for a traffic misdemeanor is stated under Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The extent of incarceration depends on the class and nature of the violation, with a Class 1 misconducts yielding the greatest punishment.

Examples of Traffic Misdemeanors in Colorado?

In Colorado, traffic misdemeanors are divided into two classes according to the gravity of the offense, and examples include;

Class 1 Misdemeanors

  • Speed contests termed ‘drag racing’
  • Careless driving resulting in physical injury on another person
  • Driving a car without insurance
  • Speeding over 25mph through a construction zone or repair zone

Class 2 Misdemeanors

  • Driving over 25miles per hour
  • Reckless driving
  • Unlawful use of license
  • Driving an automobile with a radar jamming electronic
  • Spilling loads on highways
  • Overtaking a school bus

What Constitutes a Traffic Infraction in Colorado?

Traffic infractions in Colorado are violations of the state’s traffic statutes and, they attract fines or tickets. Each county already has documented laws which residents must obey when using the road. However, traffic infractions are less severe when put side to side with other crimes. Infractions in Colorado can be classified into Class A and Class B.

According to the C. R. S. 42 of the Colorado constitution on traffic and vehicles, traffic infractions can attract consequences in fines ranging from $15 to $100, and points can also be added to the offender’s driving record by the Colorado DMV (Department of Motor and Vehicles). If charged with a traffic infraction, such a violator cannot have a jury trial but can seek a bench trial.

Examples of Traffic Infractions in Colorado?

In Colorado, traffic infractions are categorized in two; class A and class B. Common examples of class A traffic infractions are;

  • Failing to pay a toll
  • Driving through a safety zone
  • Failing to yield right-of-way while turning left
  • Driving under alcohol influence
  • Violation of any provisions of the law regarding restricted license
  • Disobedience to traffic control devices
  • Failure to decrease speed to a reasonable amount

Instances of class B traffic infractions are;

  • Driving without a seatbelt on
  • Permitting unauthorized minor to drive
  • Driving with an outdated license (mostly less than a year)
  • Parking illegally or abandonment of a vehicle
  • Meddling with traffic electronic devices, leading to damage, injury, or defacing.
  • Disobedience to traffic control devices

How Does Traffic Ticket Work in Colorado?

A traffic ticket in Colorado is a formal notification or warning from law enforcement officials issued to a motorist, road user, or a pedestrian who has disobeyed a traffic law. In Colorado, traffic ticketing is based on the nature of the violation - either moving or non-moving.

Apparently, the difference between moving and non-moving violations is whether or not the vehicle in question was in motion at the time the offense was committed. Moving violations include speeding, disobeying Colorado DUI laws, and running a red light. On the flipside, examples of non-moving violations are parking illegally, driving without duly registering a vehicle, and driving an automobile with an expired or missing license.

When a violator receives a traffic ticket in Colorado, the offender is tabled with two options, either plead guilty to proceed to pay the Colorado traffic fine or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court. If the traffic offender chooses the former, payment should be made to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles within twenty (20) days, or a summons may be issued for a court appearance. Several payment options are also provided, depending on where the citation took place. Traffic violators can pay for a ticket in person, online, by email, and on the phone.

If the offender decides to fight the ticket, the first step is to notify the court before the ticket’s date. Court notification can be submitted through mail or in person, and hiring a ticket attorney is advisable. The traffic lawbreaker should gather and organize enough evidence, contact eyewitnesses if available, then proceed to court for the hearing. If proven guilty, points will be added to the offender’s driving record, depending on the violation. Points acquired on a driving history record can affect the violator adversely as there could be a rise in car insurance premiums, and aggregating too many points could see the offender’s license suspended or revoked. If found not guilty, points will be added in favor of the individual’s record.

Generally, a point is a number attached to a traffic offense, and the more severe an offense, the higher the point. Certain violations like speeding are assigned points based on the miles per hour going by the speed the offender was driving. Below is a list of common violations in Colorado and the point values;

  • Fleeing the scene of an accident—12 points
  • Driving while under the control of alcohol—12 points
  • Speed contests—12 points
  • Attempting to avoid an officer—12 points
  • Driving recklessly—8 points
  • Failure to halt for a school bus—6 points
  • Failure to disclose proof of insurance—4 points
  • Driving in a wrong lane –3 points
  • Using an unsafe automobile—2 points
  • Failure to strictly obey traffic signs—4 points

Are Traffic/Driving Records Public in Colorado?

Colorado is an open records state, therefore information about traffic/driving records will be made accessible to any individual who wishes to access the records, following the provisions of the Colorado Open Acts Record. However, some information cannot be reviewed because the record has been termed confidential by the court of law. Requestors can order Colorado driving records by mail, and the written application should include full name, date of birth, license number, signature, and a photocopy of an identification card. Applicants can also purchase certified and non-certified copies of driving files online for a fee of $9. Non-certified copies will be sent via email, while certified copies will be sent via postal mail.

The parts of the Colorado driving record made public are convictions, driver’s license suspension, revocations, cancellations and traffic accidents, drivers point, and the status of a license.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Find Traffic/Driving Records in Colorado?

Members of the public in Colorado have access to driving records in the state, provided a proper means of Identification is presented, and the full name of the individual that is being accessed. Colorado driving records are made available in alignment with the Colorado Open Record Acts and can be accessed on the service portal of the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles for free. However, obtaining driving records in person would require visiting the DMV field office, completing a request form, and showing an identification card or driver’s license. Meanwhile, if the requester is a third party, the individual will complete a request for record information form, then proceed to pay a $5 request fee.

Points for traffic violations and infractions in Colorado can stay on a record for as long as 5years from the date of conviction.

Can Traffic Violation and Infractions be Expunged/Sealed in Colorado?

An expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which an offender seeks that earlier recorded violations be sealed, declared unavailable, or erased. In Colorado, a violator can ask to have a record expunged if the person was arrested but not charged or tried and pronounced not guilty of the charges and if the case was dismissed. Expungement or sealing is not viable for records applicable to class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses, class A or class B traffic violations, convictions involving holding a commercial vehicle license, and driving under alcohol or drug influence.

The process of sealing records in Colorado strongly requires;

  • Having copies of former police reports
  • Documenting a petition with the court
  • Paying a documentation fee

Waiting periods before sealing depends solely on the case and if all requirements are duly met. For example, arrest records, which did not result in a conviction can be expunged immediately, petty drug violations can take one year after the case ends before expungement, level 3 drug felonies and level 4 drug felonies usually amount to three years after the case before it can be expunged.

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