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42-4-1101. Speed limits.

Text

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

(2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires a lower speed, the following speeds shall be lawful:

(a) Twenty miles per hour on narrow, winding mountain highways or on blind curves;

(b) Twenty-five miles per hour in any business district, as defined in section 42-1-102 (11);

(c) Thirty miles per hour in any residence district, as defined in section 42-1-102 (80);

(d) Forty miles per hour on open mountain highways;

(e) Forty-five miles per hour for all single rear axle vehicles in the business of transporting trash that exceed twenty thousand pounds, where higher speeds are posted, when said vehicle is loaded as an exempted vehicle pursuant to section 42-4-507 (3);

(f) Fifty-five miles per hour on other open highways which are not on the interstate system, as defined in section 43-2-101 (2), C.R.S., and are not surfaced, four-lane freeways or expressways;

(g) Sixty-five miles per hour on surfaced, four-lane highways which are on the interstate system, as defined in section 43-2-101 (2), C.R.S., or are freeways or expressways;

(h) Any speed not in excess of a speed limit designated by an official traffic control device.

(3) No driver of a vehicle shall fail to decrease the speed of such vehicle from an otherwise lawful speed to a reasonable and prudent speed when a special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

(4) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (c) of subsection (8) of this section, any speed in excess of the lawful speeds set forth in subsection (2) of this section shall be prima facie evidence that such speed was not reasonable or prudent under the conditions then existing. As used in this subsection (4), prima facie evidence means evidence which is sufficient proof that the speed was not reasonable or prudent under the conditions then existing, and which will remain sufficient proof of such fact, unless contradicted and overcome by evidence bearing upon the question of whether or not the speed was reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

(5) In every charge of violating subsection (1) of this section, the complaint, summons and complaint, or penalty assessment notice shall specify the speed at which the defendant is alleged to have driven and also the alleged reasonable and prudent speed applicable at the specified time and location of the alleged violation.

(6) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to relieve the party alleging negligence under this section in any civil action for damages from the burden of proving that such negligence was the proximate cause of an accident.

(7) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of subsection (2) of this section, any city or town may by ordinance adopt absolute speed limits as the maximum lawful speed limits in its jurisdiction, and such speed limits shall not be subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.

 

(8) (a) (Deleted by amendment, L. 96, p. 578, 2, effective May 25, 1996.)

(b) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of a maximum lawful speed limit of seventy-five miles per hour.

(c) The speed limit set forth in paragraph (b) of this subsection (8) is the maximum lawful speed limit and is not subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.

(d) State and local authorities within their respective jurisdictions shall not authorize any speed limit which exceeds seventy-five miles per hour on any highway.

(e) The provisions of this subsection (8) are declared to be matters of both local and statewide concern requiring uniform compliance throughout the state.

(f) In every charge of a violation of paragraph (b) of this subsection (8), the complaint, summons and complaint, or penalty assessment notice shall specify the speed at which the defendant is alleged to have driven and also the maximum lawful speed limit of seventy-five miles per hour.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no person shall drive a low-power scooter on a roadway at a speed in excess of forty miles per hour. State and local authorities shall not authorize low-power scooters to exceed forty miles per hour on a roadway.

(9) The conduct of a driver of a vehicle which would otherwise constitute a violation of this section is justifiable and not unlawful when:

(a) It is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no conduct of said driver and which is of sufficient gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding the injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the consequences sought to be prevented by this section; or

(b) With respect to authorized emergency vehicles, the applicable conditions for exemption, as set forth in section 42-4-108, exist.

(10) The minimum requirement for commission of a traffic infraction or misdemeanor traffic offense under this section is the performance by a driver of prohibited conduct, which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform an act which said driver is physically capable of performing.

(11) It shall not be a defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that:

(a) The defendants conduct was not performed intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence; or

(b) The defendants conduct was performed under a mistaken belief of fact, including, but not limited to, a mistaken belief of the defendant regarding the speed of the defendants vehicle; or

(c) The defendants vehicle has a greater operating or fuel-conserving efficiency at speeds greater than the reasonable and prudent speed under the conditions then existing or at speeds greater than the maximum lawful speed limit.

 

(12) (a) A violation of driving one to twenty-four miles per hour in excess of the reasonable and prudent speed or in excess of the maximum lawful speed limit of seventy-five miles per hour is a class A traffic infraction.

(b) A violation of driving twenty-five or more miles per hour in excess of the reasonable and prudent speed or in excess of the maximum lawful speed limit of seventy-five miles per hour is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense; except that such violation within a maintenance, repair, or construction zone, designated pursuant to section 42-4-614, is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.

(c) A violation under subsection (3) of this section is a class A traffic infraction.

History

History.
Source: L. 94: Entire title amended with relocations, p. 2363, 1, effective January 1, 1995. L. 96: (2)(f), (2)(g), (8)(a), (8)(b), (8)(c), (8)(d), (8)(f), and (12) amended, p. 578, 2, effective May 25. L. 2003: (2)(e) amended, p. 717, 1, effective August 6. L. 2008: (12) amended, p. 2082, 7, effective June 3. L. 2009: (8)(g) added,(HB 09-1026), ch. 281, p. 1277, 54, effective October 1.

Annotations

Editors note: This section is similar to former 42-4-1001 as it existed prior to 1994, and the former 42-4-1101 was relocated to 42-4-1201.

Cross references:

Section 1 of chapter 412, Session Laws of Colorado 2008, provides that the act amending subsection (12) shall be known and may be cited as the Charles Mather Highway Safety Act.

ANNOTATION

Annotators note. Since 42-4-1101 is similar to 42-4-1001 as it existed prior to the 1994 amending of title 42 as enacted by SB 94-1, relevant cases construing that provision have been included with the annotations to this section.

Speeding classifications constitutional. Decision to treat higher rates of speeding as more serious making them criminal acts is within legislatures discretion and does not create a suspect class or infringe on a fundamental right. Drawing a distinction based on speed is rationally related to legislative purpose of safety and fuel conservation. People v. Lewis, 745 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1987).

It was the legislative intent of the general assembly in enacting the provisions of this section effective January 24, 1974, to fix a speed limit of 55 miles per hour for the period during which federal restrictions, as originated in the emergency highway energy conservation act, continued under the federal aid highway amendments of 1974, until such time as the general assembly took further action. People v. Driver, 189 Colo. 276, 539 P.2d 1248 (1975).

The general assembly clearly intended to enact an enforceable 55 mile-per-hour maximum speed limit, because maintenance of federal highway funding was contingent upon enactment of such a statute. Olinyk v. People, 642 P.2d 490 (Colo. 1982).

The policy considerations behind the enactment of this section prohibiting the driving of a vehicle in excess of the maximum speed of 55 miles per hour is that a driver must be charged as a matter of public policy, with the responsibility of ensuring that his vehicle is safe, so as to minimize the risk inherent in travel on our public highways. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

Intent to enact enforceable speed limit. It was obviously the intention of the general assembly to enact a maximum speed limit enforceable through penal sanctions. Olinyk v. People, 642 P.2d 490 (Colo. 1982).

Speed limit is enforceable. Since the penalty applicable to violation of the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit charged by complaint and summons is ascertainable, the speed limit is enforceable. Olinyk v. People, 642 P.2d 490 (Colo. 1982).

Speed should be no greater than is reasonable and prudent. The driver of a motor vehicle must at all times so operate it as to maintain reasonable control over it, at a speed no greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. Bennett v. Hall, 132 Colo. 419, 290 P.2d 241 (1955); Union P. R. R. v. Snyder, 220 F.2d 388 (10th Cir. 1955); Eagan v. Maiselson, 142 Colo. 233, 350 P.2d 567 (1960); Mayer v. Sampson, 157 Colo. 278, 402 P.2d 185 (1965).

This section creates a mandatory rebuttable presumption that if the prosecution proves that a defendant was driving in excess of the posted speed limit, the burden of going forward shifts to the defendant to prove that his or her speed was reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. People v. Hoskin, 2016 CO 63, 380 P.3d 130.

And mandatory rebuttable presumption does not violate due process. People v. Hoskin, 2016 CO 63, 380 P.3d 130.

A special hazard can be anything that is not a normal traffic condition. It need not be an unusual event such as heavy traffic after a parade or sports event. A construction zone may well be a special hazard. Dempsey v. Denver Police Dept., 2015 COA 67, 353 P.3d 928.

The appropriate signs erected pursuant to subsection (2) of this section indicate the speed limit starts at the physical location of the sign and continues to be in effect until the next different speed limit sign pursuant to the manual adopted by the department of transportation pursuant to 42-4-104. Shafron v. Cooke, 190 P.3d 812 (Colo. App. 2008).

Crime irrespective of intent or scienter. Although the absence of a specified culpable mental state in this section is not conclusive on the issue, it is well settled that the general assembly may make a prohibited act a crime, irrespective of the elements of intent or scienter, when public policy so requires. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

Offense of strict liability. In the absence of a specified element of criminal intent, and because of the strong public policy considerations, speeding is an offense of strict liability. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

Lack of culpable mental state no defense. Even though defendant presented evidence at trial that his speedometer reflected a speed 10 miles per hour below the true speed of his vehicle, and that he had no knowledge that the speedometer reading was in error, or that he should have known of the defective speedometer, his lack of a culpable mental state was not a defense to the charge of speeding. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

There is no element of mental culpability required in the speeding statute. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

Lack of criminal intent is not a defense to a charge of speeding. People v. Caddy, 189 Colo. 353, 540 P.2d 1089 (1975).

Justification is recognized as an affirmative defense to the charge of speeding, but the defendant must present credible evidence as to the specific threat of injury and the lack of a reasonable alternative other than commission of the offense. People v. Dover, 790 P.2d 834 (Colo. 1990).

A county court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of offenses alleged to have been committed under this section. People v. Griffith, 130 Colo. 475, 276 P.2d 559 (1954).

Violation is question for jury. In an action for damages resulting from an automobile accident, the question whether defendant was driving in excess of the statutory speed limit, and if not, whether he was driving at such a rate of speed, as would, under the circumstances constitute negligence, is for the determination of the jury. Carlson v. Millisack, 82 Colo. 491, 261 P. 657 (1927); Amos v. Remington Arms Co., 117 Colo. 399, 188 P.2d 896 (1948); Eagan v. Maiselson, 142 Colo. 233, 350 P.2d 567 (1960); Western Distrib. Co. v. United States, 318 F.2d 353 (10th Cir. 1963).

Sufficiency of evidence to show violation of this section. Lorenzini v. Rucker, 95 Colo. 246, 35 P.2d 865 (1934); Alden v. Watson, 106 Colo. 103, 102 P.2d 479 (1940).

A person of reasonable intelligence may express an opinion of the speed of an automobile or other moving object coming under his observation without proof of further qualifications. Eagan v. Maiselson, 142 Colo. 233, 350 P.2d 567 (1960).

Administrator of general services administration properly delegated to the secretary of defense the authority to promulgate traffic and pedestrian regulations for military installations within the United States. Therefore secretary properly promulgated regulations adopting all traffic rules of state in which installation located and defendant could be charged with speeding in violation of this section, although charge was dismissed on other grounds. U.S. v. Boyer, 935 F. Supp. 1138 (D. Colo. 1996).

Applied in City of Greenwood Vill. v. Fleming, 643 P.2d 511 (Colo. 1982); Smith v. Charnes, 649 P.2d 1089 (Colo. 1982); Corr v. District Court, 661 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1983).