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2024 Colorado Speeding Ticket: Jail Time or Fine?

It is possible to go to jail for speeding in Colorado, especially if the speeding violation is severe. Generally, minor speeding violations are treated as infractions that result in fines or points on your driver’s license. However, if the speeding is excessive or classified as reckless driving, it could lead to more severe consequences, including jail time.
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Overview of Colorado’s Speeding Laws

According to Path Forward Legal, Colorado’s speeding laws can be divided into three major categories: basic speeding laws, presumed speed limits, and absolute speed limits. Each category carries its own penalties and consequences, depending on the extent of the speeding violation and other factors, such as whether you were caught speeding in a construction zone [1].

Basic Speeding Law
Colorado’s basic speeding law mandates that drivers travel at a speed that is reasonable and prudent given the existing conditions. This entails adjusting speed based on traffic density, weather conditions, and road characteristics. Violations of this law can lead to traffic citations, with penalties escalating based on the severity of the speeding, such as driving 25 mph or more above the speed limit, which is considered a criminal traffic violation.

Presumed Speed Limits
Presumed speed limits in Colorado suggest a presumed safe speed under various conditions. Exceeding these limits implies driving at a speed considered unsafe by law.

Some standard presumed speed limits in Colorado, unless otherwise indicated, are:

  • 25 mph in business districts and on narrow, winding mountain roads or blind curves.
  • 35 mph in residential areas.
  • 45 mph on open mountain highways.
  • 55 mph on open state highways.
  • 65 mph on surfaced, four-lane interstate highways.

Absolute Speed Limits
Absolute speed limits are explicitly set speeds that drivers must not surpass. In Colorado, these are strictly enforced, especially on certain state highways where the maximum speed limit is set at 75 mph. Violating these fixed speed limits leads to immediate penalties, with the severity depending on how much the speed limit was exceeded.

Speeding in special zones like construction areas may incur more severe consequences. It’s crucial for drivers to be aware of and adhere to the varying speed limits to avoid substantial penalties and ensure safety on the roads.

Colorado Speeding Penalty Violations

Penalties for Speeding Violations

Violation

Fine

Surcharge

Jail Time

1 to 4 mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph (Class A traffic infraction)

$30

$6

None

5 to 9 mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph (Class A traffic infraction)

$70

$10

None

10 to 19 mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph (Class A traffic infraction)

$135

$16

None

20 to 24 mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph (Class A traffic infraction)

$200

$32

None

25 or more mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph (a fine, or jail time, or both may be imposed) (Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense)

Minimum $150

Maximum $300

Not Applicable

Minimum 10 days

Maximum 90 days

25 or more mph over the reasonable and prudent speed, or over the maximum lawful speed of 75 mph in a construction zone (a fine, or jail time, or both may be imposed) (Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense)

Minimum $300

Maximum $1,000

Not Applicable

Minimum 10 days

Maximum 1 year

Driving at a speed that is not reasonable and prudent given road conditions (Class A traffic infraction)

$100

$10

None

Driving at such a slow speed that the normal and reasonable forward movement of traffic is impeded (Class A traffic infraction)

$50

$6

None

Exceeding a safe speed on a bridge or elevated structure (Class A traffic infraction)

$30

$6

None

Source: Colorado General Assembly [2].

How Do I Fight Speeding Tickets in Colorado?

Here are four effective defense strategies to contest charges of speeding violations:

According to the SCLG, Police radars can malfunction. Or perhaps the police officer pulled over the wrong driver. Either way, the defense attorney’s job is to investigate the matter in detail. This includes finding surveillance video and eye-witnesses and testing the law enforcement’s radar gun for defects. Depending on the available evidence, the prosecutor may be willing to drop the case [3].

  • Existence of an Emergency: While speeding is typically unlawful, there can be exceptions where an emergency situation justifies the driver’s actions. For instance, if the driver was escaping from a natural disaster, urgently driving to a hospital when no ambulance was available, or responding to a serious medical emergency while driving, these scenarios could persuade a prosecutor to drop the charges. Demonstrating that a reasonable person would have acted similarly is crucial.
  • False Accusation: There are occasions where traffic citations might be issued incorrectly, whether due to a misunderstanding, quota fulfillment, or personal bias. In these situations, video from police dashcams can be pivotal. Defense lawyers would also seek any corroborating evidence from witnesses or video recordings from bystanders to establish that no traffic laws were breached.
  • Incorrect Signage: As traffic signs increasingly become digital and remotely controlled, the chances of displaying incorrect information due to human error or technical issues arise. A traffic attorney can argue that the driver was adhering to the posted speed as shown on the sign. Proof of erroneous signage could lead to the dismissal of the case under CRS 42-4-1101.

It’s important to note that in all cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor, who must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of whether the charge is an infraction or a misdemeanor.

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If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

References:

1. https://pathforwardlegal.com/colorado-speeding-laws-and-penalties/
2. https://leg.colorado.gov/content/penalties-speeding-violations
3. https://www.shouselaw.com/co/defense/laws/traffic/speeding/

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