Most Colorado traffic offenses are relatively minor. Drivers don’t notice a change in the speed limit as they travel and end up ticketed for going too fast. Police officers also issue citations for infractions ranging from improper merging to conducting a rolling stop at a traffic light.
Most traffic violations are civil infractions that only lead to tickets. However, sometimes Colorado police officers arrest people for more serious traffic violations. State prosecutors can then bring criminal charges against someone for how they behaved in traffic.
Many traffic crimes involve allegations of intoxication at the wheel. The state may have chemical evidence of impairment that can make such cases easy to develop. Other traffic crimes may involve interpretation of the law. For example, sometimes police officers decide to arrest people for reckless driving. What circumstances may justify reckless driving charges?
Reckless driving means displaying a blatant disregard for safety
Many different behaviors in traffic could lead to reckless driving allegations against motorists. Excessive speeding could lead to claims of reckless driving. Someone traveling well over the posted speed limit in a residential neighborhood or near a school might face reckless driving charges instead of simply receiving a speeding ticket.
Those drag racing on public roads or engaging in conduct that constitutes road rage might also end up accused of reckless driving. A reckless driving offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $300. There is a 10-day minimum sentence that may apply in some cases.
The state can also charge someone with a careless driving offense, which is also a Class 2 misdemeanor. Careless driving generally means failing to have the necessary degree of caution required for personal safety, while reckless driving means operating a vehicle in a manner that displays a wanton disregard for safety.
If someone has a prior reckless driving conviction on their record, then the penalties for any subsequent charges increase. The courts can sentence someone to up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If a reckless driving incident leads to someone getting hurt, then prosecutors could pursue vehicular assault charges instead of reckless driving charges.
Those accused of serious traffic infractions, especially those that are criminal charges not just tickets, may want to defend against those allegations. Fighting back against reckless driving charges can help people avoid criminal records, higher insurance rates and the penalties that the courts might be handed down after a guilty plea or conviction.