What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Colorado?

Reckless driving is as severe a crime as it sounds and can lead to serious legal troubles. A successful conviction may cost the defendant more than a few hours of traffic lessons and some cash. Such tickets may attract jail time and threaten the driver’s right to drive in the future.

A reckless driving case is a straightforward court hearing, but it can impact one’s life in significant ways. Yet, upon receiving a summons for reckless driving, many drivers prefer to accept their fate and plead guilty. It needs no mention that such a cavalier way of handling this case can lead to severe consequences.

It is imperative to understand the nitty-gritty of a reckless driving offense to protect yourself while on the road.

Colorado’s Legal Definition of Reckless Driving

As mentioned earlier, reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense that may culminate in trial as a defendant in court. But what habits constitute a reckless driving misdemeanor? In layman’s terms, reckless driving is any activity undertaken while driving a motor vehicle that may put property or people in danger.

Section 42-4-1401 of the Colorado Statutes explicitly defines the offense of reckless driving [1].

Reckless driving occurs when:

  1. The subject drives a motor vehicle in a way to show deliberate or malicious contempt for the safety of property or people. The offense also includes persons operating bicycles and electric scooters.
  2. Anyone guilty of violating section 1 above commits a traffic offense. A second conviction of such an offense shall attract a fine of not more than $1,000 and not less than $50, a jail term of not more than six months and not less than ten days, or both a fine and a jail term.

What Reckless Driving Looks Like Per Colorado Law

Although Colorado state law clearly defines reckless driving, many people don’t understand what that legal jargon looks like in real life. Reckless driving in Colorado can take many forms, which makes it even more difficult for people to discern. However, there are some examples of reckless driving that are clear to identify.

Intoxicated driving

Intoxicated driving continues to be a common type of reckless driving even though there is considerable data to indicate the dangers of such behavior. Driving while intoxicated may significantly increase the possibility of accidents occurring. Drugs, such as marijuana and alcohol, may impact a driver’s cognitive process, inhibit his decision-making, and lower his response time.

DUI is a severe crime in all states across the country, with most increasing their fines for this offense to curb such incidents.

Below are a few random fun facts  highlighting DUI laws in Colorado:

  • The breath or blood alcohol content limit for drivers in Colorado is 0.08.
  • The permissible inference limit for Marijuana is 5ng/100 ml of blood.
  • A driver may still be charged with DUI if law enforcers find that the driver was under the influence of a combination of drugs, including prescription drugs.


Speeding is, undoubtedly, the most common type of reckless endangerment. Many people wrongly assume they are skilled enough to maintain absolute control over their vehicles, even at high speeds.

Such hubris only leads to tough lessons, and many misinformed drivers learn that high speeds make it harder to control vehicles. Additionally, speeding allows drivers little time to respond to other drivers’ actions and unforetold road conditions.

According to Colorado law, driving between up to 24 MPH above the permissible speed limit is considered a Class A traffic offense. Moving at a speed of 25 MPH above the limit is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic infraction.

Aggressive driving

Aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado. However, aggressive driving may occur in different forms, which makes it hard to accurately define. Some examples of aggressive driving include:

  • Carelessly overtaking other vehicles
  • Not yielding way to other vehicles
  • Tailgating another driver
  • Stopping in the middle of the road to harm other drivers
  • Evading traffic controls

Also note that driving aggressively to harm other road users is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which may attract up to a year behind bars.

Ignoring traffic signals

State legislatures enact traffic laws to protect all road users. Accordingly, failing to obey these laws places the lives and properties of all road users in needless jeopardy. Disregarding red lights or failing to stop at a stop line are common forms of reckless driving behavior.

Colorado law stipulates that drivers found guilty of running a red light may have to pay a $100 fine. Such a violation may also add four points to the driver’s driving record.

Inappropriate passing

According to Colorado law, improper passing is a Class A traffic offense that can attract a fine of up to $100 plus any other court fees. Drivers who ignore their tickets may get a default judgment passed against them. The US Department of Motor Vehicles may also suspend their licenses until they pay the fine.

Colorado statutes mandate that drivers change lanes only when it is safe. While the law does not give technical details, like space between vehicles and car length, it requires drivers to rely on turn signals and side mirrors before switching lanes.

The law prohibits drivers from passing on a no-passing zone, passing on a blind curve, and passing a school bus once the red lights are flashing.

Weaving in and out of traffic

Weaving is a form of reckless driving where a driver swerves in between lanes dangerously. Colorado law states that it is Illegal for a driver to engage in speed contests and exhibitions.

In this context, a speed contest includes acts such as needlessly exceeding prudent and reasonable speeds on the highway, driving two or more vehicles to conduct a race, vying for positions, and dangerously changing lanes to gain an advantage over other race participants.

Speed exhibition refers to driving a vehicle to display speed and power. Speed exhibition includes:

  • Rapid weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Deliberately producing smoke from wheel slippage.
  • Leaving skid marks on the road’s surface.

Driving without headlights

Colorado statutes decree that all vehicles should have at least two working headlamps on either side of the car. Additionally, drivers must turn on the headlamps when visibility is low, such as at night and during snowy conditions.

Driving the wrong way

Section 42-4-1010 of the Colorado Statutes categorizes driving on the wrong side as a Class A traffic offense that may attract a fine of up to $100. The law mandates drivers to always drive on the right side of freeways and divided roads.

Your Rights in Accidents Involving a Reckless Driver

Reckless driving accidents are a serious offense. However, the victims of a reckless driving accident are the ones who suffer the most. If you’re unsure about your rights in reckless driving accidents, the team at Legal Help in Colorado is here to help.

With our experience in personal injury law, we can not only explain your rights, but we can help you get the compensation you deserve. We’re available 24/7 to take your call and get started.


[1] https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2016/title-42/regulation-of-vehicles-and-traffic/article-4/part-14/section-42-4-1401

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