How To Deal With a Careless Driving Ticket in Colorado

What is careless driving in Colorado, and how is it different from reckless driving? Find out here.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Bellina Gaskey
, various actions—like speeding or distracted driving—can result in a careless driving charge. If convicted, you’ll have driving points added to your record, putting you at greater risk of having your license suspended.
  • Careless driving is a misdemeanor and is less serious than reckless driving in Colorado.
  • The punishment for careless driving includes a fine and/or jail time. If someone is injured or killed due to careless driving, the consequences are more severe.
  • Multiple actions, including speeding, tailgating, and causing an accident, may land you with a careless driving charge.

What is considered careless driving in Colorado? 

Section 42-4–1402 of the
Colorado Revised Statutes
(CRS) defines careless driving and its penalties. Here’s the exact language:
A person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, electric scooter, or low-power scooter in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for width, grade, curves corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances, is guilty of careless driving.
Distracted driving, tailgating someone too closely, speeding, and causing an accident due to careless behavior are all events that could leave you with a careless driving charge.
MORE: Everything you need to know about texting and driving laws in Colorado

Careless driving vs. reckless driving in Colorado

Careless driving and reckless driving can often get confused, but the latter is a much more serious offense. 
Two of the main lines between careless driving and reckless driving are the severity of and intention behind the behavior. Here’s how reckless driving is defined in the
A person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, electric scooter, or low-power scooter in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
Examples of reckless driving could include aggressively tailgating and honking at someone in a fit of road rage or racing someone on the freeway—both of which can quickly put others in danger.
While a careless driver’s actions might result from a lack of attention or awareness, a reckless driver may not have the primary intention of putting someone in harm’s way, but still engages in risky behavior.
Like careless driving, reckless driving in Colorado usually qualifies as a class 2 misdemeanor but can be escalated to a class 1 misdemeanor in the event of someone’s injury or death. It’s punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, and generally results in eight points to your driving record. 

Careless driving vs. DUI in Colorado

It’s also worth clarifying the distinction between careless driving and a
DUI in Colorado
. A DUI charge comes into play when the driver in question is under the influence of alcohol and/or one or more drugs. A blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher qualifies for a DUI charge.
Depending on the circumstances, a DUI charge in Colorado can be a misdemeanor or felony offense, and repeat offenses come with more severe penalties.

Penalties for careless driving in Colorado

In Colorado, careless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor, the consequences of which are a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in prison.
But if someone is injured or killed due to the driver’s actions, it’s elevated to a class 1 misdemeanor, which can come with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to a year of prison time. 
Careless driving convictions will typically add 4 points to your driving record. Accidents that result in someone’s death will also add 12 points to the driver’s record and result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Another undesirable consequence is that you could likely see your
car insurance
rates go up once your provider learns about the violation.

Can you lose your license for careless driving in Colorado?

Adult drivers in Colorado who get 12 points on their driving record within 12 months (or 18 within 24 months) are subject to having their licenses suspended for at least six months. If your careless driving violation puts you over that threshold, you can expect to lose your driving privileges for a time.
It pays—sometimes literally—to stay focused and level-headed when you’re on the road. If you’re feeling very emotional, sleepy, or distracted, it’s better to pull over or delay your trip until the issue is resolved.
“Because I have a luxury car, I was more interested in finding better coverage than the exact price.
helped me upgrade my policy, and when my record is cleared next year, I will be using Jerry again to choose an even cheaper plan!” —Paige W.
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
Find insurance savings


You have the option of contesting a careless driving charge in Colorado. You may wish to seek out a consultation from a criminal defense law firm.
Careless driving is a misdemeanor in Colorado, not a felony. That said, it can still come with serious consequences, like hefty fines, jail time, driving record points, and potential suspension of your driver’s license. More serious incidents could result in more serious charges.
If you don’t currently have a valid driver’s license, or if it expired, you could face up to $100 in fines and a potential year-long delay in reapplying for your license for a repeat offense.
If you’re caught driving while your driver’s license is suspended, you could face steeper penalties like fines of up to $1,000, jail time, and an extension of the license suspension period.
Are you overpaying for car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings