The Colorado Careless Driving Law is a catch-all law used to deal with offenses involving driving that is perceived as careless or imprudent without regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways.
Due to the vague nature of this charge, it can be applied to any situation that deviates from what is interpreted as “careless driving.” In addition to being used as a single offense, this charge is commonly levied upon those pulled over for a speeding violation. A speeding offense can also qualify as a careless driving offense if the speeding was careless or the driver was engaged in other dangerous actions in addition to speeding. Those who are pulled over for speeding excessively will also qualify for this charge as the sheer speed deems their driving careless. The violation is most often used by itself when a driver is driving aggressively.
This charge can come in the form of an ordinance violation most often heard in municipal court or a state statute heard by a judge in the Colorado County Court.
Furthermore, a Careless Driving violation is an extremely versatile charge as it can be used against as driver even if the careless activity occurs on private property. Commonly, this will be a private parking lot. This is very different from typical Colorado laws as most other traffic violations only apply to driving infractions taking place on public streets and roadways.
Even though this law is often seen as vague, there are a few specific circumstances set forth that require the application of this law. Particularly in the case of bicycle riders, vehicle drivers who drive too closely or near a bicyclist will automatically be cited for driving carelessly.
For the unfortunate driver involved in an accident, it is common for a Careless Driving charge to be applied whether or not the accident was serious or not. Even though most drivers at fault for accidents have committed minor traffic infractions, police officers often choose the Careless Driving charge as it carries the significantly more serious charge of a misdemeanor traffic offense. This allows for more severe penalties, including the payment of restitution by the driver convicted of Careless driving.
Other traffic violations are classified as a civil matter and are dealt with in traditional ways such as fines and points on a violators license. Due to a Careless Driving charge being classified as a misdemeanor, it has the potential for criminal penalties such as jailtime. The charge is given depending upon whether or not injuries were incurred due to the reckless driving. Those who have not injured another person will be subject to a lesser charge of a Class 2 Misdemeanor Traffic offense. Those responsible for the injury, death, or premature termination of a pregnancy of another person will be charged under a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense.
If you find yourself the victim of a Careless Driving Charge, take the offense seriously and seek legal counsel from a skilled attorney.
Guest post submitted by Emilio De Simone, from one of Colorado’s leading DUI firms, DUI Law Firm Denver.