Reckless Driving, Careless Driving Both Fit the Bill
Like most states, Colorado has reckless driving laws on the books. What does the state regard as reckless conduct, reckless driving, and careless driving? All behaviors can lead to deadly auto accidents, but are they the same offense?
According to Colorado law, a person “acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.”
When determining whether conduct is reckless, a Colorado court will generally consider the individual’s personal knowledge and experience and what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances.
Someone who commits reckless endangerment is one who “recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person.” Reckless endangerment is a class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. It is punishable by a fine of up to $750 and up to six months in jail.
Reckless Driving and Careless Driving
According to Colorado law, reckless driving is the misdemeanor offense of operating a vehicle “in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Anyone operating a car, truck, van, bicycle, electric bicycle, or scooter can be charged with reckless driving. A first offense may be punishable by $150 to $300 in fines and by 10 to 90 days of jail time. Repeat offenses may be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Careless or negligent driving — operating a vehicle “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 attendant circumstances” — is generally considered to be a less severe infraction than reckless driving. Although careless driving is also a misdemeanor offense with penalties comparable to those incurred by reckless driving, it will cause fewer points to be added to the offender’s driving record.
If injuries and death result from reckless or careless driving, the penalties will likely be more severe. If the behavior caused the death of another person, vehicular homicide may be charged.
Other traffic offenses may be charged along with a reckless driving allegation.
- Vehicular eluding of a police officer, which can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Vehicular assault, i.e., driving recklessly and causing a serious injury to another person.
If a charge of reckless driving cannot be proven, a driver may still be convicted of the lesser charge of careless driving.
Seeking Legal Advice for Reckless Driving Accident in Colorado
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident caused by the recklessness of another driver, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.