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Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender

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Colorado Habitual Traffic Offender

It’s true that many traffic offenses are minor and do not carry hefty fines and stiff penalties, especially for first-time offenders. However, those who commit repeat offenses face severe penalties under Colorado law. Colorado habitual traffic offenders typically face license suspension for years and have to serve jail time on top of fines for their traffic citations. Being declared a Colorado habitual traffic offender has serious repercussions that impact drivers professionally and financially, making it necessary to fight tickets with the help of an experienced attorney.

Habitual Traffic Offender in Colorado Springs

Those designated as Habitual Traffic Offenders (HTO) in Colorado Springs will have to go to court in El Paso County. Habitual traffic offenders typically go to criminal court instead of basic traffic court which is reserved for speeding tickets and minor violations. Additionally, the Colorado Springs District Attorney’s Office has the authority to seize or order a habitual traffic offender to forfeit their motor vehicle because they are considered a public nuisance.

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What Makes Someone a Habitual Offender?

Colorado drivers who receive multiple citations for moving violations can be designated a habitual traffic offender two ways: three strikes in seven years or the accumulation of excessive DMV points.

Three Strikes for Colorado Traffic Offenders

In Colorado, drivers convicted of three major traffic offenses in seven years can be declared a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). Colorado includes the following offenses as strikes towards an HTO declaration:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Vehicular assault
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Aggravated theft of a motor vehicle (car-jacking)
  • Making false claims about any matter concerned with motor vehicle laws or the information required to administer those laws

Points Against Colorado Drivers’ Licenses

Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles can also declare a driver an HTO if they accumulate too many points against their drivers’ license within five years. Drivers with the following face an HTO designation:

  • 10 or more separate moving violations that add four or more points against a license
  • 18 or more separate moving violations that add three or fewer points against a license

On a separate but related note, remember that the DMV is not required to notify drivers if they are close to meeting the threshold of an HTO. Drivers have to check their DMV record regularly.

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What Are the Penalties for Being a Habitual Offender in Colorado?

Any time the state declares a driver as a habitual traffic offender, they revoke the driver’s license for five years. They have to pay the applicable fees to get their license reinstated when the revocation period ends. However, if an HTO drives during revocation, the penalties are much steeper.

  • Driving after revocation—legally referred to as driving after revocation prohibited (DARP)—comes with a mandatory jail sentence of a minimum of 30 days. Those convicted face up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
  • If driving after revocation includes another charge for a major moving violation, someone designated as an HTO faces felony charges of aggravated driving. This comes with up to two years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
  • Colorado Springs’ District Attorney may choose to seize an HTO’s vehicle if they drive while their license is revoked.

How Can an Attorney Help Someone Who Is a Habitual Offender?

Everyone has rights, even when they allegedly violate the rules of the road. An experienced criminal defense attorney protects the rights of their clients and looks for ways to remove an HTO designation and/or reduce related penalties. Some common defenses attorneys use for habitual traffic offenders include:

  • Inaccuracies on a DMV record
  • Mistaken identity of a driver
  • Only driving to take someone to the hospital or other emergency
  • Not guilty of the moving violation that led to the HTO declaration
  • Inadequate legal representation for an earlier conviction

Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or
    Summons
    01

    Arrest or
    Summons

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing
    02

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of
    Charges
    03

    Advisement of
    Charges

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)
    04

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing
    05

    Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment
    06

    Arraignment

    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing
    07

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness
    Conference
    08

    Pretrial Readiness
    Conference

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial
    09

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing
    Date
    10

    Sentencing
    Date

    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

What is the sentence for misdemeanors in Colorado?

  • Class 1

  • 6 to 18 months in county jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • For extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanors, the maximum jail sentence is 24 months.
  • For 3rd-degree assault (CRS 18-3-204), the maximum sentence can be 48 months if the victim was on duty as a:
    • Peace officer,
    • Emergency medical provider,
    • Firefighter, or
    • Mental health professional at the Department of Human Services.
  • Class 2

  • 3 to 12 months in county jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

What are Colorado felony penalties?

  • Class 1

  • Life imprisonment
  • No Colorado crime carries the death penalty.
  • Class 2

  • 8 – 24 years in Colorado State Prison, and/or
  • $5,000 – $1,000,000
  • 5 years of mandatory parole if the offense is a crime of violence. Otherwise, 3 years of mandatory parole.
  • Class 3

  • 4-12 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $750,000 but not less than $3,000
  • 3 years of parole
  • Class 4

  • 2 – 6 years in prison, and/or
  • $2,000 – $500,000
  • 3 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 4 felonies, the maximum sentence is 8 years in prison.
  • Class 5

  • 1 – 3 years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 2 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 5 felonies, the maximum sentence is 4 years in prison.
  • Class 6

  • 1 – 18 months years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 1 year of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 6 felonies, the maximum sentence is 2 years in prison.

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Ask A Criminal Defense Attorney

At Right Law Group, we understand the stress you are under. Our Criminal Defense Law Firm is here to guide you down the right path to your legal challenge. Whether you are facing your first DUI, a drug charge, need a restraining order, or are facing another type of criminal charge, our firm is committed to your well-being and protecting your rights the right way.

Is being a habitual traffic offender a felony?

Technically, being a habitual traffic offender occurs because of a collection of convictions. In and of itself, an HTO designation is not a felony. However, one or more of the moving violations that led to the declaration could be felonies. Additionally, a habitual traffic offender who drives after revocation risks a felony conviction if they are charged with another major moving violation at the same time.

Can a habitual traffic offender get a hardship license?

Sometimes an HTO might qualify for a hardship license to travel to and from work or to and from medical appointments. However, it depends on the situation. The five-year license revocation for an HTO typically does not provide an opportunity for relief. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you if you qualify for a hardship license. They can also help you find other solutions to get your driving privileges reinstated as soon as possible.

What happens to drivers who are habitual offenders?

The short answer is that habitual offenders lose their Colorado drivers’ license for five years. However, if a habitual traffic offender gets caught driving after revocation, they face mandatory jail time and hefty fines. Aside from court-imposed penalties, habitual traffic offenders face professional and financial consequences. HTOs must rely on public transportation, rideshare, taxis, friends, and family to get them to and from where they need to go. This can be more costly than using one’s vehicle. Additionally, those who have jobs that require them to drive a company vehicle could potentially get fired.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Colorado Springs Habitual Traffic Offender Lawyer Near You

If you have been designated a habitual traffic offender in Colorado, you need a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and knows how the court system works. Criminal defense attorneys work with you to help you establish a strong defense. Even if you believe that a conviction is inevitable, a Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer can help you fight for a lesser charge, a reduced sentence, or another more favorable outcome. Contact us right away for a free case consultation.