Careless vs. Reckless Driving in Colorado

There are many different types of traffic offenses throughout the country, and Colorado is no exception. It is important to understand the different nuances of each type of offense, especially if you have been ticketed with one and are facing related charges. Often times, traffic laws are written to allow discretion in issuing tickets in an effort to ensure that roads can be made safer. Careless driving and reckless driving are serious offenses in Colorado, even if the conduct that resulted in the citation did not result in injury.

Reckless Driving

Colorado law 42-4-1401 defines reckless driving as a person operating “a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or low-powered scooter in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Such conduct might include:

  • Engaging in aggressive driving at excessive speeds with another vehicle;
  • Driving excessively above the speed limit in a residential neighborhood; and
  • Performing dangerous driving maneuvers, like drag racing.

Here, if you know your conduct is dangerous and have still chosen to disregard your safety and the safety of others, especially if you are operating a vehicle in a manner that is illegal or is not intended for vehicles, there is a possibility that you can receive a citation for reckless driving. A citation and subsequent conviction for reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense in Colorado. This means it carries a possible penalty of between 10 and 90 days in jail, fines between $150 and $300, or a combination of these. These penalties increase if this is the second or any subsequent citation for reckless driving.

Careless Driving

Colorado law 42-4-1402 defines careless driving as a person operating “a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or low-powered scooter in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other circumstances.” Such conduct might include:

  • Driving excessively over the speed limit;
  • Driving erratically on crowded streets; and
  • Driving without regard to existing weather conditions.

Basically, if you know that you are driving in an unsafe manner, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of being cited for careless driving. If such conduct results in a citation but did not result in injury to anyone, it will be considered a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense under Colorado law. This means it carries a possible penalty of between 10 and 90 days in jail, fines between $150 and $300, or a combination of these. If careless driving results in bodily injury or death, then careless driving will be considered a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for this increase to between 10 days and 12 months in jail, fines between $300 and $1,000, or a combination of these.

Criminal Defense of Reckless or Careless Driving

Maybe you were running late for work. Maybe you were rushing to the hospital. Maybe you were not thinking and engaged in street games with friends. Maybe road rage got the best of you. Whatever the reason, these are serious offenses that can impact your driving record and finances for a long period of time. If you have received a citation for careless or reckless driving, especially if it has resulted in injury or death, you first step in defending yourself is to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney with experience in Colorado traffic offenses. Tiftickjian Law Firm can help you make sure that your rights are protected and that the judicial process of defending yourself against these charges is as clear and smooth as possible. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your citation and see how our defense team can help you.