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The difference between reckless and careless driving in Colorado

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Posted By McAdams Law | January 11 2019 | Criminal Defense, Firm News, Traffic Offenses

You are probably already aware that reckless driving laws exist in Colorado. However, you may not know what constitutes reckless driving behavior, or the penalties for it. Another surprising fact is that Colorado has a separate offense for careless driving. 

It is vital to understand the differences between reckless and careless driving, especially if facing a ticket and/or criminal charges. Below is a brief explanation of these two traffic violations.

Reckless driving definition and penalties

According to Colorado statutes, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. The law defines reckless driving as intentionally operating a vehicle in a manner that endangers people or property. A first offense may come with fines between $150 and $300 and between 10 to 90 days of jail time. Repeat offenses may result in up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

A reckless driving conviction results in various administrative penalties. If you are guilty of this offense, you may receive points on your driving record, which may lead to license suspension and rising insurance rates.

Careless driving definition and penalties

Careless driving is essentially a less severe form of reckless driving. Another term people often use to describe careless driving is negligent driving. This means the behavior and intent are not as severe as with reckless driving. 

The law treats careless driving as a misdemeanor as well. The penalties are usually the same as reckless driving, except with fewer points added to the driving record.

Additional considerations

Charges for careless or reckless driving often come with additional charges. These behaviors may result in injuries or fatalities. With the involvement of injuries and death, penalties may be harsher. Specifically, in terms of causing the death of another person, there may be a charge of vehicular homicide. 

The repercussions of a careless or reckless driving conviction can be serious. It is helpful to understand the law as much as possible as well as how to defend against such charges.

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