What Are Colorado Careless Driving Charges and What Are the Penalties?

by | Apr 24, 2023 | Reckless Driving, Traffic Defense

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings or Pay a Hefty Price

You have undoubtedly seen plenty of careless driving in Colorado. You may have even been careless yourself while behind the wheel. Sometimes, such carelessness – a sudden lane change, inadvertently cutting someone off, failing to see a pedestrian and coming a bit too close for comfort – comes and goes with little more than a honk or apologetic wave.

But careless driving in Colorado can also lead to more severe consequences, such as accidents or injuries. That is why in Colorado careless driving is a citable traffic offense. Similar to the more familiar charge of “reckless driving,” careless driving can be costly for drivers, resulting in fines, potentially increased insurance premiums due to added points to their driving records, and even jail time.

What is Colorado Careless Driving?

If police assert that your driving is careless or foolhardy (that is, your driving does not consider road width, grade, curves or corners, or the traffic and weather conditions), you could be charged with careless driving under C.R.E. § 42-4-1402. But this charge can come against you even if you are not driving a car, truck, or motorcycle. The law also applies to anyone driving a bicycle, electric bicycle, or a low-powered scooter. You can also receive a ticket for careless driving while on private property, such as a grocery store parking lot. So thinking that you can ignore that stop sign at King Sooper’s and an accident occurs as a result, you can expect to receive a traffic citation.

Examples of Careless Driving

james careless driving in coloradoCommon examples of careless driving include:

  • Improper lane change.
  • Failure to signal before changing lanes.
  • Taking your hands off the wheel while eating.
  • Holding a cell phone while driving.
  • Going over the posted speed limit.
  • Disobeying posted traffic signs.

Related: Can I Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Colorado?

What is the Difference Between Careless Driving in Colorado and Reckless Driving?

Colorado law views reckless driving as a separate – and more serious – violation than careless driving. The critical difference between the two infractions is the driver’s knowledge and intent when they engage in the conduct. While careless driving involves driving without due consideration for the safety of others, reckless driving, as outlined in C.R.E. § 42-4-1401, involves driving with “either a wanton or willful disregard” of others’ safety. For example, failure to stop at a stop sign you didn’t see would be careless. Failing to do so when you know the stop sign is there would be reckless. The careless driver didn’t know they were crossing the intersection in a way that could put others at risk, while the reckless driver knew that their behavior was dangerous.

Penalties For Careless Driving

The consequences you will face if convicted of careless driving depends on whether your conduct resulted in someone getting hurt. Most careless driving cases in El Paso County are class 2 misdemeanor driving offenses. The penalties upon conviction include up to 90 days in jail and $300 in fines. However, if the result of your careless driving was the proximate injury of another, it is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense. A conviction can lead to 10 days to 12 months in a county jail and $300 to $1,000 in fines. In addition to fines and the possibility of jail time, careless driving in Colorado will garner you four points against your driving record. This could lead to higher car insurance premiums and puts you closer to the maximum number of points you can accumulate before your driving privileges are at risk. In Colorado, adults over the age of 21 can lose their license to drive if they receive 12 or more points against their license within 12 months or 18 points in 24 months. Second or subsequent convictions can do even more damage to your record.

Should You Hire a Traffic Attorney for Charges of Driving Carelessly in Colorado?

The short answer is, yes, you should hire a traffic attorney when you receive a ticket for careless driving in Colorado. Why? As with any other criminal charge, El Paso County prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense of careless driving in order to obtain a conviction. This requires that they present solid evidence and credible witnesses to prove their guilt. Determining what defenses to raise against these charges without sound legal counsel will significantly impact your odds of reducing the charges or possibly even having them dropped. On the other hand, a skilled traffic lawyer attorney knows what defenses can result in a dismissal of the charges.

Treat Colorado Traffic Charges Seriously – Get a Defense Lawyer Now

If you are facing either careless driving or reckless driving in Colorado Springs, don’t make the mistake of treating these charges like a run-of-the-mill traffic ticket. You have a lot at risk when facing the possibility of a conviction. Trying to fight the charges on your own – or even worse, ignoring or pleading guilty to the charges – can disrupt your life and cost you large sums of money and even your freedom. As former prosecutors themselves, the Colorado Springs traffic lawyers at James Newby Law know exactly what defenses will and will not work when protecting your right to drive a vehicle. Put our experience to work for you to obtain the best possible outcome for your careless driving citation. Speak with a Colorado Springs traffic attorney today.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.