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Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 – Bodily Injury Or Death

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado DUI – DWAI – DUID – Criminal Defense Lawyer

Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 - Bodily Injury Or DeathUnderstanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 – Bodily Injury Or Death – Careless Driving under Section 42-1-1402 CRS – is the kind of ticket that confuses many people. The charge almost always accompanies an accident and is what I call a “kitchen sink” charge that police use when they can’t find another – more specific charge to fit the situation.

While I have written about careless driving before, this article is intended to take a closer look at the mechanics of the crime and to help the reader understand how it may – or may not – apply to their case.

Under Colorado law, Careless Driving, (Colorado Revised Statutes Section 42-4-1402), is defined as follows:

(1) Any person who drives any motor vehicle, bicycle, or motorized bicycle 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 guilty of careless driving. A person convicted of careless driving of a bicycle or motorized bicycle shall not be subject to the provisions of section 42-2-127.

(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, but, if the person’s actions are the proximate http://www.mindanews.com/buy-levaquin/ cause of bodily injury or death to another, such person commits a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.

Careless driving is a four (4) point traffic offense.

Click On Chart To Enlarge Penalties for Colorado Traffic Crimes

In Colorado State- County Based Careless Driving Charge

Colorado-MISDEMEANOR-TRAFFIC Adult-Sentencing-Laws-Chart

In Colorado, careless driving can be charged in a Colorado County Court such as Arapahoe County – the possible penalties are:

1. Careless Driving Ticket Without Serious Bodily Injury: Punishable up to ninety (90) days in jail and/or up to $300.00 fines. 4 pints are assessed against your license.

2. Careless Driving Ticket With Serious Bodily Injury or Death: Punishable up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1000.00.

If a person dies in the accident In A Colorado Municipal Court Case: – 12 Points are accessed against your license and your license will be suspended for one year.

When the Colorado crime of Careless Driving is charged under Colorado State Law – it is important to note that if bodily injury and/or death are charged – these are not elements of the offense of careless driving – they are “sentence enhancers, “ which increase the possible punitive sentence.

Colorado Careless Driving Statutes

Some Additional Information About Colorado Careless Driving Cases

Many confuse careless driving and reckless driving. Reckless driving and careless driving offenses consist of two key elements:

(1) The act of driving a motor vehicle; and

(2) the state of mind of a “disregard” or “without due regard” for safety.

While neither crime involves “intentional” wrongdoing, careless driving and reckless driving are not the same. A careless driving charge is intended to target the driver who is isn NOT deliberately attempting to drive in a dangerous way. Compare that to the reckless driver who IS willingly driving in a way that could endanger themselves and others.

A Side By Side Comparison Of Reckless And Careless Driving In Colorado

When Colorado Juries are instructed at the close of a trial on the elements of Reckless – or Careless Driving – the breakdown of the elements of these charges is as follows:

The elements of the crime of Reckless Driving 18-1-501(8) are:

1. That the defendant,

2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

3. drove a [motor vehicle] [bicycle] [electrical assisted bicycle] [low-power scooter],

4. in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.

[5. and that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense[s] in Instruction[s] ___.]

[8 points are assessed]

The elements of the crime of Careless Driving 42-4-1402(1) are:

1. That the defendant,

2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

3. drove a [motor vehicle] [bicycle] [electrical assisted bicycle] [low-power scooter],

4. 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.

[5. and that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense[s] in Instruction[s] ___.]

[4 points are assessed]

Understanding The Mental State Of Careless And Reckless Driving

Colorado appellate cases also address the differences between these charges:

Careless Driving involves “Criminal Negligence”

Careless driving requires that the defendant drive without due regard.

Reckless Driving involves “Reckless Conduct”

Reckless driving is driving a motor vehicle ‘in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property . . ..’ Section 42–4–1203(1), C.R.S.

While the ACT of driving is the same for each offense – the Mental State distinguishes them.

The mental element of careless driving is negligence that is the ‘careless and imprudent’ frame of mind indicating the absence of due care. The mental element of reckless driving – while also negligent conduct – involves of a much higher degree of carelessness.

It has been said that “willful,’ ‘wanton’ or ‘reckless’ conduct tends to take on the aspect of highly unreasonable conduct, or an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger is apparent.’

The two offenses differ only in that the degree of negligence required is far more culpable in reckless driving, although it falls short of intentional wrongdoing.

Other Kinds Of Colorado Charges Of Careless Driving

Careless Driving – Emergency Vehicles: 42-4-1402 (2) (b) and (c)

A driver who fails to properly exhibit due care and caution while approaching or passing a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is giving a visual signal commits careless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense when the actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury or death to another.

Careless Driving Maintenance Vehicles: 42-4-705 (3) (b)

A driver who fails to properly exhibit due care and caution while approaching or passing a maintenance, repair, or construction vehicle that is moving at less than 20 miles per hour commits careless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense when the actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury or death to another.

Careless Driving Chained Tire Vehicles: 42-4-705 (3) (b)

A driver who fails to properly exhibit due care and caution while approaching or passing a motor vehicle where the tires are being equipped with chains on the side of the highway commits careless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense when the actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury or death to another.

Careless Driving Interaction With Bicyclists: 42-4-705 (3) (b)

A driver who, in a careless and imprudent manner, drives his or her vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, commits careless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense when the actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury or death to another.

Defenses to Colorado Careless Driving Charges

Careless Driving Defenses 42-4-1402 C.R.S.

Defenses to the crime of Careless Driving are as different as the accidents that ultimatley lead to the charge itself:

Some of the most common methods of defending against a Colorado charge of careless driving are:

  • Establishing that the accused was not the driver at the time of the alleged crime.
  • Establishing that the driving itself was safe and not careless.
  • Establishing that a distraction that led to the accident was unavoidable (see below) and not the driver’s fault.

A Closer Look At Defending A Colorado Charge Of Careless Driving

The Inadvertent Distraction:

Inadvertent distractions caused by some unexpected external factor may be a successful defense to a charge of careless driving. When a “deviation” from a reasonable driving pattern occurs – such as that caused by a rock hitting the windshield, an unexpected animal in the road, or a load of slush hitting the windshield during a snowstorm – these kinds of incidents may provide a defense against a careless driving charge under Colorado law.

The Driving Is Not Careless Driving Under 42-4-1402

A Colorado driver need not be expected to exercise a “perfect” level of skill and care. No ordinary driver is expected to show perfect reaction times. A careless driving ticket should not be sustained where an individual has exercised a reasonable level of skill – that is – the driving skills of an ordinary person under the same or similar circumstances.

Careless Driving 42-4-1402 – Is Focused On The Circumstances At The Time Of Driving

There is no set of requirements that define the phrase “in a careless and imprudent manner” Whether careless driving occurs depends on the individual case, such things as the condition of the road, visibility, the weather conditions, the traffic conditions and any and all other conditions that exist at the time of the alleged careless driving. .

The Mere Existence Of A Traffic Accident Is Not Proof Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402

The occurrence of a motor vehicle accident, even if is a serious one, is not proof of careless driving. Only a close examination of the driving and the situation-specific factors of the driving itself in addition to all other relevant circumstances must be examined before a conclusion can be reached as to whether the driving in question – was careless.

Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 – Bodily Injury Or Death

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The reader is admonished that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.

If, after reading this article, you have questions about your case and would like to consider retaining our law firm, we invite you to contact us at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm – 303-627-7777.

Never stop fighting – never stop believing in yourself and your right to due process of law. You will not be alone in court, H. Michael at your side every step of the way – advocating for justice and the best possible result in your case.

H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Criminal DUI Defense LawyerABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com – A Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277. Attorney H. Michael Steinberg is passionate about criminal defense. His extensive knowledge and experience of Colorado Criminal Law gives him the edge you need to properly handle your case.

“A good criminal defense lawyer is someone who devotes themselves to their client’s case from beginning to end, always realizing that this case is the most important thing in that client’s life.”

You should be careful to make a responsible choice in selecting a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – and we encourage you to “vet” our firm. Over the last 30 plus years – by focusing ONLY on Colorado criminal law – H. Michael has had the necessary time to commit to the task of constantly updating himself on nearly every area of criminal law, to include Colorado criminal law and procedure and trial and courtroom practice. H. Michael works hard to get his clients the best possible results in and out of the courtroom. He has written, and continues to write, extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article helps you in some small way – Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 – Bodily Injury Or Death.

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Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 - Bodily Injury Or Death
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Understanding The Colorado Law Of Careless Driving 42-4-1402 - Bodily Injury Or Death
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Careless Driving under Section 42-1-1402 CRS - is the kind of ticket that confuses many people. The charge almost always accompanies and accident and is what I call a "kitchen sink" charge that the police use when they can’t find another - more specific charge to fit the situation.
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H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
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