About the Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender Law
Experienced Colorado traffic lawyers understand that there exist numerous ways under Colorado traffic law whereby a driver in Colorado can have their privilege to drive suspended or revoked by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). One the most severe driver sanctions that can be imposed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a determination by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles that an individual is a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO).
Aside from being one of the most severe sanctions that can be imposed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicle, the Habitual Traffic Offender designation is also a sanction that many Colorado motorists are not familiar with. Even some Colorado Traffic Lawyers do not fully understand all of the nuances and implications of Colorado’s Habitual Traffic Offender law.
Colorado traffic law provides that Habitual Traffic Offender provisions are intended to deny the privilege of operating motor vehicles on Colorado highways and roads to persons who, by their conduct and record, have demonstrated their indifference to the safety and welfare of others and their disrespect for the laws of Colorado, the Orders or Colorado courts, and the statutorily required acts of Colorado administrative agencies. The law further provides that it is intended to discourage repetition of criminal acts by individuals against the peace and dignity of Colorado and its political subdivisions and to impose increased and added deprivation of the privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon habitual offenders who have been convicted repeatedly of violations of traffic laws.
There are two general ways a motorist who drives a motor vehicle in Colorado, either as a resident or non-resident, can be deemed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to be a Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender. First, and perhaps the most common, is a person can become a Habitual Traffic Offender if that motorist has, during any seven year period, accumulated three convictions for separate and distinct major traffic violations as those major traffic offenses are enumerated in applicable Colorado law. Under certain circumstances a violation not committed in Colorado may still count, within Colorado, toward the designated three HTO convictions. These major traffic violation convictions include:
- (I) DUI, DUI per se, DWAI or habitual user;
- (II) Driving a motor vehicle in a Reckless manner;
- (III) Driving a motor vehicle upon a Colorado highway or road while such person’s license or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been denied, suspended, or revoked;
- (IV) Knowingly making any false affidavit or swearing or affirming falsely to any matter or thing required by the motor vehicle laws or as to information required in the administration of such laws;
- (V) Vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, or manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide which results from the operation of a motor vehicle, or aggravated motor vehicle theft;
- (VI) Conviction of a driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident involving death or personal injuries who fails to perform the duties required of a driver under Colorado Traffic Law subsequent to being involved in such an accident.
The second way a person can be deemed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles to be, under Colorado traffic law, a Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender is if either i) any person, during any five (5) year period, accumulates ten or more separate and distinct traffic convictions, occurring on separate days, each of which results in four or more points; or ii) if any person, during any five (5) year period, accumulates eighteen or more separate and distinct traffic convictions, occurring on separate days, each of which results in three or less points.
A Colorado motorist determined to be a Habitual Traffic Offender is generally precluded from any driving privileges for a period of five full years by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles and, subsequent to the expiration of five years, must undertake procedures mandated by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles to obtain a valid driver’s license. A limited potential exception is available from the five year revocation if one or more of the offenses for which a person is convicted is alcohol related and the individual meets other conditions imposed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.
Without having a perfectly clear understanding of their traffic record, or a perfectly clear understanding of what may lead to a Colorado motorist’s designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender, in accordance with Colorado traffic law, many individuals who have had traffic violations as described above can, without foreseeing it, become deemed to be a Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender. For instance, an individual who has had their license suspended, sometimes due to a rather minor issue, but who continues to drive in Colorado, can quickly accumulate enough Driving Under Suspension violations to be designated a Habitual Traffic Offender. That is why it is important to consult a Colorado Traffic Lawyer prior to taking actions that may possibly make an individual motorist deemed to be a Habitual Traffic Offender.
Legal Disclaimer – The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado traffic law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific Colorado traffic law situation. Information on this web site is not intended to cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the most current Colorado traffic law.
Individuals should consult an experienced Colorado traffic lawyer for advice regarding an individual situation.
Colorado Traffic Lawyer Articles by Ross Koplin