Colorado Criminal Law – Q and A – Colorado Texting And Driving Law – C.R.S. 42-4-239 – UPDATED 2017
Colorado Criminal Law – Q and A – Colorado Texting And Driving Law -Recently in North Dakota – a woman was charged with vehicular homicide after her car slammed into an 89 year old woman. The woman admitted she was using Facebook on her cell phone and sending texts at the time she struck the victim
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She was driving 85 mph on the highway at the time. She never braked. There were no skid marks prior to impact.
Drivers who text while they drive are 23 times more likely to get into an accident.
What Follows Is The 2017 Update – Modification Of Colorado’s Texting Law
|(2)||A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. This subsection (2) does not apply to acts specified in subsection (3) of this section.|
|(3)||A person shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle.|
|(4)||Subsection (2) or (3) of this section shall not apply to a person who is using the wireless telephone:
|(7)||The provisions of this section shall not be construed to authorize the seizure and forfeiture of a wireless telephone, unless otherwise provided by law.|
|(8)||This section does not restrict operation of an amateur radio station by a person who holds a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the federal communications commission.|
|(9)||The general assembly finds and declares that use of wireless telephones in motor vehicles is a matter of statewide concern.|
Cite as C.R.S. Â§ 42-4-239
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The Old Law:
What Is The Colorado Criminal Law On Texting While Driving?
Colorado’s texting law dfferes from many other states in several significant ways.
Here is the law:
C.R.S. 42-4-239. Misuse of a wireless telephone – definitions – penalty – preemption
(1) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Emergency” means a situation in which a person:
(I) Has reason to fear for such person’s life or safety or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against such person or another person, requiring the use of a wireless telephone while the car is moving; or
(II) Reports a fire, a traffic accident in which one or more injuries are apparent, a serious road hazard, a medical or hazardous materials emergency, or a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or otherwise unsafe manner.
(b) “Operating a motor vehicle” means driving a motor vehicle on a public highway, but “operating a motor vehicle” shall not mean maintaining the instruments of control while the motor vehicle is at rest in a shoulder lane or lawfully parked.
(c) “Use” means talking on or listening to a wireless telephone or engaging the wireless telephone for text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission.
(d) “Wireless telephone” means a telephone that operates without a physical, wireline connection to the provider’s equipment. The term includes, without limitation, cellular and mobile telephones.
(2) A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle.
(3) A person eighteen years of age or older shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle.
(4) Subsection (2) or (3) of this section shall not apply to a person who is using the wireless telephone:
(a) To contact a public safety entity; or
(b) During an emergency.
[HMS- Punishment Section– $50.00 fine plus a $6.00 surcharge for a First Offense $100.00 fine plus a $6.00 surcharge for a Second Offense]
(5) (a) A person who operates a motor vehicle in violation of subsection (2) or (3) of this section commits a class A traffic infraction as defined in section 42-4-1701 (3), and the court or the department of revenue shall assess a fine of fifty dollars.
(b) A second or subsequent violation of subsection (2) or (3) of this section shall be a class A traffic infraction as defined in section 42-4-1701 (3), and the court or the department of revenue shall assess a fine of one hundred dollars.
(6) (a) An operator of a motor vehicle shall not be cited for a violation of subsection (2) of this section unless the operator was under eighteen years of age and a law enforcement officer saw the operator use, as defined in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, a wireless telephone.
(b) An operator of a motor vehicle shall not be cited for a violation of subsection (3) of this section unless the operator was eighteen years of age or older and a law enforcement officer saw the operator use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission.
(7) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to authorize the seizure and forfeiture of a wireless telephone, unless otherwise provided by law.
(8) This section does not restrict operation of an amateur radio station by a person who holds a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the federal communications commission.
(9) The general assembly finds and declares that use of wireless telephones in motor vehicles is a matter of statewide concern
Why Colorado’s Cell Phone Texting While Driving Law Is Different
Drivers Under 18 – NO Cell Phone Use Of ANY Kind – Unless Emergency
It is illegal for young drivers in Colorado – (drivers younger than 18) to use cell phones (handheld or blue tooth type hands-free) while driving.
The exceptions for these under 18 drivers are:
reporting a fire
reporting a traffic accident in which one or more injuries are apparent
reporting a serious road hazard
reporting a medical or hazardous materials emergency
reporting a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or otherwise unsafe manner.
ALL Colorado Drivers – No Texting While Driving
ALL Colorado drivers (except bus drivers) may NOT TEXT while driving unless there is an emergency.
The law defines a cell phone – as, “a telephone that operates without a physical, wire line connection to the provider’s equipment” and this includes cellular and mobile telephones.
Emergency is defined under this law as a moment in time when the person texting: “has reason to fear for such person’s life or safety or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against such person or another person”[Or] is someone who is reporting: “a fire, a traffic accident in which one or more injuries are apparent, a serious road hazard, a medical or hazardous materials emergency, or a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or otherwise unsafe manner.”
The Police MUST SEE The Texting Happening To Make AN Arrest
One of the requirements of the law is the police officer has to personally witness the act of texting before the crime can be proven.
BUT – as opposed to a “secondary traffic crime” law – such as a seatbelt violation – the driving while texting law is a ” primary traffic crime law” which means a law enforcement officer has the right to actually stop your vehicle for THAT crime. Specifically, the police can see you texting without the need for another crime to have occurred as a basis for stopping your car.
Texting While Driving Law – In Effect Since December of 2009
The law – now 3 about four years old – essentially makes texting on your phone while driving a crime. “Texting” includes – text messages, emails, and tweets and it does not matter that you are at a light when you are doing it.
Law enforcement admits that it is hard to enforce the law. When stopped – the defense of “I was checking my emails – I was not texting” is common and few tickets are written without more than one witness.
Summary – Colorado Criminal Law – Q and A – Colorado Texting And Driving Law – C.R.S. 42-4-239
Minor Colorado Drivers. Under 18 – no cell phone use of any kind while driving which includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission.
Adult Colorado Drivers. Adult drivers are – no text-messaging or similar forms of transmission, while behind the wheel. Typical other cell phone use for voice calls is allowed.
Both may use a device for phone calls or sending or receiving text message to contact a public safety emergency or during an emergency. (An emergency is defined as any situation in which the following situations occur):
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ a person has reason to fear for his or her life or safety;
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ a person believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against another person;
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ reporting of a fire;
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ reporting of a serious road hazard;
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ reporting of a medical or hazardous materials emergency; and
Ă˘â‚¬Â˘ reporting of a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or unsafe manner.
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