September 19, 2023
If you’ve ever gotten pulled over in our state for speeding or reckless driving, this probably won’t come as any surprise:Colorado law carries some of the harshest penalties in the nation for drivers.Click To Tweet
But while many out there may have believed this to be true for years, now there is proof. A recent study rated US states on how strictly the state’s laws and insurance companies treated at-risk drivers. Out of all 50 states, Colorado came in 6th. The strictest state in the nation was Arizona, and the most lenient was South Dakota.
This study was conducted by WalletHub. It focused on a number of factors to determine the strictness of each state. The factor that weighed most heavily in the final ranking was the criminal penalties after receiving a DUI. Additionally, researchers looked at preventative measures for DUIs, speeding enforcement, reckless driving penalties, and the average costs of insurance increases.
Our state ranked the top quarter of all states when it came to DUI penalties. With the 17th spot on the list, Colorado drunk and drugged driving penalties are harsher than most other states in the US. Moreover, at the time of the study, Colorado had not yet introduced its felony DUI bill, which would no doubt place it in a higher spot.
We ranked 26th in the “Highest Insurance Premium Penalties” list, just outside of the top half. On average, here’s how it breaks down for Colordans:
DUI conviction – expect an annual premium increase of $539
Speeding 20+ mph over the limit – expect to pay a premium increase penalty of $277
Reckless driving conviction – expect to pay a $475 increase
Driving with a suspended license – expect to pay a $465 increase
Two auto accidents – expect an increase of $1,389
Colorado ranked #1 in strictest penalties for reckless driving offenses. In Colorado, driving 25 miles per hour over the speed limit is considered reckless driving. Our state also ranked high because of its severe penalties for highway racing and our speed trap camera system. Those convicted of a reckless driving offense face a minimum of 10 days in jail.
A Closer Look at Colorado’s Legal Penalties for Driving Offenses
Another element that may not have been considered by researchers is Colorado’s DWAI offense, a measure not present in most states laws. In Colorado, you can be penalized for driving with alcohol in your system even if your Blood Alcohol Content measures below the national limit of .08%.
If an officer believes your driving ability is impaired, he or she can issue a DWAI if your BAC is above .05% and below .08%. Though a lesser offense than a DUI, a DWAI is still a serious charge in Colorado. Those convicted may be punished with up to 180 days in jail, and up to $500 in fines for a first offense.
Colorado’s new felony DUI law also imposes harsh penalties on drunk drivers. Under this new law, drunk drivers who are charged with a fourth DUI face felony charges, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Citizens of Colorado may also be unaware of the harsh penalties attached to a reckless driving offense. Reckless driving, unlike a regular speeding ticket, is a criminal charge. That means if you are convicted, you will have a criminal record. Reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
If you are charged with a driving offense in Colorado, you could face some of the harshest penalties in the US. It is imperative you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin mounting an effective defense strategy.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.