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Helpful Traffic Offense Resources

Colorado Habitual Traffic Offenses (HTO)

What is a Habitual Offender Under Colorado Law?

Habitual offenders – those who are convicted of three or more serious traffic violations within a seven-year period – can be treated harshly, garnering steep penalties for infractions that include jail time and license revocation. However, not every Colorado driver is aware of what constitutes a serious offense under the legal definition.

In fact, some comparably minor offenses, such as reckless driving, could compound to put you at risk for being treated as someone who, according to the law, has "demonstrated their indifference to the safety and welfare of others and their disrespect for the laws" – which can result in increased penalties and consequences.

Under Colorado law, serious traffic violations include:

  • Driving a motor vehicle on a highway in violation of a license restriction
  • Driving under suspension or revocation
  • DUI and DWAI
  • Making false affidavits as required by motor vehicle laws
  • Reckless driving
  • Vehicular assault or homicide

Even drivers who have shown improvement over time can be hit with this classification. For instance, those who have gone years without incurring a driving infraction, but who had two reckless driving convictions previously, could face steeper penalties if they are labeled a habitual offender through a conviction in a new case.

Drivers can also be labeled a habitual traffic offender if they:

  • Accumulate 10 or more "separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts committed within a period of five years." This applies to moving violations that add 4 or more points to your driver's license.
  • Receive 18 or more separate and distinct moving violation convictions for which 3 points or fewer are assessed to your driver's license during a five year period.

If you are facing a charge that may give you this legal distinction, or you are unsure of whether a new offense may put you at risk for this classification, it is important to discuss your case with an attorney. At Orr Law Firm, we fully understand all Colorado traffic laws. We'll be able to assess your case and recommend a course of action.

Colorado's Habitual Traffic Offense Statutes

Learn more about the following habitual traffic offenses:

  • 42-2-201. Legislative declaration concerning habitual offenders of motor vehicle laws.
  • 42-2-202. Habitual offenders - frequency and type of violations.
  • 42-2-203. Authority to revoke license of habitual offender.
  • 42-2-205. Prohibition.
  • 42-2-206. Driving after revocation prohibited.
  • 42-2-208. Computation of number of convictions.

42-2-201. Legislative Declaration

  1. It is declared to be the policy of this state:
    1. To provide maximum safety for all persons who travel or otherwise use the public highways of this state;
    2. To deny the privilege of operating motor vehicles on such highways 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 this state, the orders of its courts, and the statutorily required acts of its administrative agencies; and
    3. To discourage repetition of criminal acts by individuals against the peace and dignity of this state and its political subdivisions and to impose increased and added deprivation of the privilege to operate motor vehicles upon habitual offenders who have been convicted repeatedly of violations of the traffic laws.

42-2-202. Habitual Offenders - Classified

  1. A habitual offender is any person, resident or non-resident, who has accumulated convictions for separate and distinct offenses described in subsection (2) of this section committed during a seven-year period or committed during a five-year period for separate and distinct offenses described in subsection (3) of this section; except that, where more than one included offense is committed within a one-day period, such multiple offenses shall be treated for the purposes of this part 2 as one offense. The record as maintained in the office of the department shall be considered prima facie evidence of the said convictions.
  2. A habitual offender is a person having three or more convictions of any of the following separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts committed within a period of seven years:
    1. Conviction of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in any accident involving death or personal injuries for failure to perform the duties required of such person under section 42-4-1601.
    2. 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, as such offenses are described in title 18, C.R.S.;
    3. 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;
    4. Driving a motor vehicle upon a highway while such person's license or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been denied, suspended, or revoked, in violation of section 42-2-138;
    5. Driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, in violation of section 42-4-1401;
    6. DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, or habitual user;
    7. The offenses included in subparagraphs (I), (II), (III), and (V) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) shall be deemed to include convictions under any federal law, any law of another state, or any ordinance of a municipality that substantially conforms to the statutory provisions of this state regulating the operation of motor vehicles. For purposes of this paragraph (b), the term "municipality" means any home rule or statutory city or town, a territorial charter city, or a city and county.
  3. A person is also a habitual offender if such person has ten or more convictions of separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts committed within a period of five years involving moving violations which provide for an assessment of four or more points each or eighteen or more convictions of separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts committed within a period of five years involving moving violations which provide for an assessment of three or less points each in the operation of a motor vehicle, which convictions are required to be reported to the department and result in the assessment of points under section 42-2-127, including any violations specified in subsection (2) of this section.
  4. For the purpose of this section, the term "conviction" has the meaning specified in section 42-2-127 (6) and includes entry of judgment for commission of a traffic infraction as set forth in section 42-4-1701.

42-2-203. Authority to Revoke

The department shall immediately revoke the license of any person whose record brings such person within the definition of a habitual offender in section 42-2-202. The procedure specified in section 42-2-125 (3) and (4) shall be employed for the revocation.

42-2-205. Prohibition

  1. No license to operate motor vehicles in this state shall be issued to a habitual offender, nor shall a habitual offender operate a motor vehicle in this state:
    1. For a period of five years from the date of the order of the department finding such person to be a habitual offender except as may be permitted by section 42-2-132.5; and
    2. Until such time as financial responsibility requirements are met.

42-2-206. Driving After Revocation Prohibited

  1. It is unlawful for any person to operate any motor vehicle in this state while the revocation of the department prohibiting the operation remains in effect. Any person found to be a habitual offender, who operates a motor vehicle in this state while the revocation of the department prohibiting such operation is in effect, commits a class 1 misdemeanor.
    1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S., any person convicted of violating subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (a) shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment in the county jail for thirty days, or a mandatory minimum fine of three thousand dollars, or both. The minimum jail sentence and fine required by this subparagraph (II) shall be in addition to any other penalty provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S. The court may suspend all or a portion of the mandatory jail sentence or fine if the defendant successfully completes no less than forty hours, and no greater than three hundred hours, of useful public service. In no event shall the court sentence the convicted person to probation. Upon the defendant's successful completion of the useful public service, the court shall vacate the suspended sentence. In the event the defendant fails or refuses to complete the useful public service ordered, the court shall impose the jail sentence, fine, or both, as required under this subparagraph (II).
    2. A person commits the crime of aggravated driving with a revoked license if he or she is found to be a habitual offender and thereafter operates a motor vehicle in this state while the revocation of the department prohibiting such operation is in effect and, as a part of the same criminal episode, also commits any of the following offenses:
      1. Vehicular eluding, as described in section 18-9-116.5, C.R.S.
      2. Violation of any of the requirements specified for accidents and accident reports in sections 42-4-1601 to 42-4-1606; or
      3. Eluding or attempting to elude a police officer, as described in section 42-4-1413;
      4. Reckless driving, as described in section 42-4-1401;
      5. DWAI;
      6. DUI or DUI per se;
      7. Aggravated driving with a revoked license is a class 6 felony, punishable as provided in section 18-1.3-401, C.R.S.
  2. For the purpose of enforcing this section in any case in which the accused is charged with driving a motor vehicle while such person's license, permit, or privilege to drive is revoked or is charged with driving without a license, the court, before hearing such charges, shall require the district attorney to determine whether such person has been determined to be a habitual offender and by reason of such determination is barred from operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state. If the district attorney determines that the accused has been so held, the district attorney shall cause the appropriate criminal charges to be lodged against the accused.

42-2-208. Conviction Computation

With respect to persons charged as habitual offenders, in computing the number of convictions, all convictions must result from offenses occurring on or after July 1, 1973.

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