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Colorado Driving and Traffic Laws

Even if you've been driving in Colorado for quite a while, it is good to take some time, every now and then, to review the state's driving and traffic laws. If you're new to driving in Colorado or are planning to drive there in the future, you'll want to know how to drive in such a way that you can avoid accidents, tickets, and breaking the law. Either way, this quick review of some of the most important aspects of the laws governing motor vehicles in Colorado can help you drive safely and securely in the state.

Drunk Driving

As in most states, driving drunk is a serious crime in Colorado. While it's best to simply avoid driving altogether when you've been drinking or doing drugs, if you find yourself facing the charge of a DUI or a DWI in Colorado, you'll need to know what that means and what penalties you're facing.

There are two levels of intoxicated driving in CO. The first, Driving While Impaired (DWI), is what you will be charged with if your blood alcohol level is found to be between 0.05% and 0.08%. This is considered a slightly lesser offense that Driving Under the Influence (DUI), which is what you will be charged with if your blood alcohol content is over 0.08%. However, both of these are serious offenses in the state and you will face stiff penalties if convicted of either.

Note that an officer in Colorado can actually charge you with a DWI even if your blood alcohol content is below 0.05%, if he believes that any alcohol in your system is impairing your driving, even a little bit. However, it can be more difficult for courts to prove that your judgment was impaired without the supporting evidence of the blood alcohol content, so many officers will not charge you with anything if they do not have that.

It is also illegal to drive while impaired by illegal or prescription medication in Colorado. Depending on how severe your impairment is, you will be charged with either a DWI or a DUI, and will face the same penalties you would face if you had been caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you are under 21 years of age and are found to have a blood alcohol content over 0.02%, you will be automatically charged with a DUI, because it is illegal to drink alcohol at all until you are 21. You will face stiff penalties for this and it may influence your ability to drive legally even after your 21st birthday.

The penalties for a DWI or a DUI in Colorado are extensive, based on which offense you were charged with, how high your blood alcohol content actually was, how old your are, and how many similar offenses you've had in the past. In general, you will face fines, jail time, suspension of your drivers license, points on your drivers license, and mandatory public service for each DWI/DUI you are convicted of.

Colorado's Points System

Like many states, Colorado has points system for keeping track of the citations and tickets that drivers receive for breaking the state's traffic laws. Every driving and traffic law that you break in the state is assigned a certain number of points, between 1 and 12, based on the severity of the offense and the importance of the law. For instance, breaking the speed limit by 5-9 miles per hour will earn you one point, but breaking it by more than 40 miles per hour will earn you 12 points.

If you get too many of these points in a certain period of time, you will have your license suspended for a while. The maximum number you can get is determined by your age. If you are between 16 and 18 years old, you cannot get more than 6 points in any 12 month period or 7 points before you turn 18. If you are between 18 and 21 years old, you cannot get more than 9 points in any 12 month period, 12 points in any 24 month period, or 14 points between the ages of 18 and 21. If you are an adult driver, over the age of 21, you cannot get more than 12 points in any 12 month period or 18 points in any 24 month period. All points that you receive in Colorado remain on your record for seven years.

The only way to remove points from your driver's license in Colorado is to take a state-approved defensive driving course. This option is only available in certain cases and pertaining to certain moving violations. Your traffic ticket should let you know if this is an option for you, or the DMV should contact you once they've processed your ticket.

With this system in place, it is important that you keep track of any points you get. This will help you if you need to disagree with the state about your driving record and to remind you of how may points you might have left before facing a suspension of your license.

Other Driving and Traffic Laws

There are many ways to get your driver's license suspended in Colorado other than getting a DWI/DUI and accumulating too many points on your driving record. These include driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, being convicted of reckless driving, being found at fault in a fatal accident, abandoning your car on a public highway, being found physically or psychologically incapable of driving safely, not responding to a DMV notice, failing to appear in court, failing to pay traffic fines, and not paying child support. Thus, it's important to make sure you follow all of CO's laws if you want to keep your driver's license.

If you have a baby or a young child, it's important that you follow Colorado's laws regarding car seats. While car seats used in Colorado must meet certain safety standards, all car seats legally sold in the United States currently meet those standards. Thus, if you buy your car seat in the US, it should be legal to use in Colorado.

Babies in CO must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are one year old. Between the ages of one and four and 20-40 pounds, children must continue to ride in a car seat but may face forward. Unless they are taller than 55 inches, children between the ages of 4 and 6 must ride in a booster seat. In addition, all passengers in a vehicle who are under 16 years of age must wear a seat belt at all times, even if they are in the back seat.

While there are other important laws in Colorado, these are some of the most important and most commonly broken. With knowledge of them, you should be able to drive safely and legally in the state and avoid traffic violations and citations. If you have more questions about Colorado driving and traffic laws, check out the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles website at http://www.colorado.gov/revenue/dmv for more information.

 

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