If enacted, violators might lose their driver’s license.
Careless driving is the main cause of automobile accidents in Colorado. But the state holds careless drivers responsible only if they injure a “vulnerable road user.”
Now Colorado lawmakers want to hold careless drivers accountable no matter whom they injure.
“The way the statute has it, it’s like pedestrians, people on bikes and strollers,” Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone recently told KDVR Denver. “Instead of having a list of things like saying, ‘Oh, you were on a hoverboard, you don’t count, you’re not a vulnerable road user,’ we’re just making sure that everybody who might be in accident is actually covered under the statute.”
“A much steeper punishment.”
Titone, fellow State Representative Colin Larson, and Colorado State Senator Dennis Hisey have sponsored a bill to widen the scope of penalty-incurring carelessness from inflicting “serious bodily injury to a vulnerable road user to serious bodily injury to anyone.”
If enacted, violators would have their driver’s license suspended. They would also have to attend a driver improvement course, perform 320 hours of community service, and provide appropriate restitution as determined by the court.
The lawmakers proposed the bill after Representative Larson received a letter from constituent John Nelson. Nelson’s son had been gravely injured by a driver who slammed into his car while fiddling with the radio. The victim suffered a broken sternum and a brain embolism. The liable party had two points taken from his license, but, in Nelson’s view, deserved a much steeper punishment.
The 2020 bill passed the Colorado House unanimously last session, but it didn’t emerge from a committee in the senate chamber.
Reckless Driving in Colorado
Reckless driving in Colorado is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. Colorado statutes state that a person “who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or low-power scooter in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
To be charged with reckless driving, the driver must have been aware of the risks. Wanton disregard for the safety of others entails a conscious choice to do something dangerous.
Careless driving is driving without sufficient regard for the risks. Reckless drivers choose to ignore danger; careless drivers fail to understand the risks they pose. In Colorado, reckless driving is considered more serious than merely careless driving. But all drivers who are driving recklessly are also considered to be driving carelessly.
Traffic offenses related to reckless driving include:
- Driving under the influence. In Colorado, it is possible to get a charge of driving under the influence reduced to a charge of reckless driving.
- Vehicular assault. This offense involves driving recklessly while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causing a serious injury to another individual.
- Eluding police. Colorado law prohibits fleeing from police in a car. Doing so can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge of felony eluding requires proof of reckless driving.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen online or call 303-454-8000 or 800-ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today.