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42-4-1401. Reckless driving - penalty.


(1) 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. A person convicted of reckless driving of a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or electric scooter is not subject to section 42-2-127.

(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.


Source: L. 94: Entire title amended with relocations, p. 2392, 1, effective January 1, 1995. L. 2009: (1) amended,(HB 09-1026), ch. 281, p. 1279, 57, effective October 1. L. 2019: (1) amended,(HB 19-1221), ch. 271, p. 2561, 11, effective May 23.


Editors note: This section is similar to former 42-4-1203 as it existed prior to 1994, and the former 42-4-1401 was relocated to 42-4-1601.

Cross references:

For operating a vehicle in a reckless manner while eluding a peace officer, see 18-9-116.5; for provision that the operation of vehicles and the movement of pedestrians pursuant to this section apply upon streets and highways and elsewhere throughout the state, see 42-4-103 (2)(b).


Law reviews. For article, One Year Review of Constitutional and Administrative Law, see 38 Dicta 154 (1961).

Annotators note. Since 42-4-1401 is similar to 42-4-1203 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.

A finding of knowing or wilful conduct is sufficient to establish the culpable mental state of recklessness. People v. Yanaga, 635 P.2d 925 (Colo. App. 1981).

One may be said to be guilty of wanton behavior when, although the defendant may not have deliberately intended to injure anyone, he consciously chooses a dangerous course of action which to a reasonable mind creates a strong probability that injury to others will result. Martin v. People, 179 Colo. 237, 499 P.2d 606 (1972).

Wanton and wilful disregard not equivalent of wilful or intentional injury. An allegation in a complaint that defendant was guilty of negligence consisting of wanton and wilful disregard of the rights and safety of others is not equivalent to an allegation of wilful or intentional injury. Healy v. Hewitt, 101 Colo. 92, 71 P.2d 63 (1937).

One who commits reckless driving necessarily has been guilty of careless driving, for the greater degree of negligence includes the lesser. People v. Chapman, 192 Colo. 322, 557 P.2d 1211 (1977).

Both reckless and careless driving offenses consist of two elements: (1) The act of driving a motor vehicle; and (2) the state of mind in disregard of or without due regard for safety. People v. Chapman, 192 Colo. 322, 557 P.2d 1211 (1977).

In both reckless and careless driving statutes the essence of the mental element is disregard of safety in driving. In both it is the absence of care which renders the driving criminal. People v. Chapman, 192 Colo. 322, 557 P.2d 1211 (1977).

The two offenses differ only in that the degree of negligence required is far more culpable in reckless driving than in careless driving, although it falls short of intentional wrongdoing. People v. Chapman, 192 Colo. 322, 557 P.2d 1211 (1977).

Reckless driving is a lesser included offense of vehicular eluding. People v. Pena, 962 P.2d 285 (Colo. App. 1997); People v. Esparza-Treto, 282 P.3d 471 (Colo. App. 2011).

Wanton or willful disregard for safety under this section is essentially the same element as the reckless state of mind specified in 18-9-116.5. People v. Pena, 962 P.2d 285 (Colo. App. 1997).

Reckless driving is not a lesser included offense of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault. People v. Clary, 950 P.2d 654 (Colo. App. 1997).

Jury question in civil case. Whether or not either of the drivers or both were negligent in violating this section and whether said negligence was the proximate cause of this accident, or whether it was caused by the joint and concurrent negligence of both, were questions of fact for the jury to determine. Amos v. Remington Arms Co., 117 Colo. 399, 188 P.2d 896 (1948).

This section preempts municipal ordinances. Cities and towns not organized as home-rule cities may not enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation relating to motor vehicles which supersedes or attempts to nullify a comparable state statute on reckless driving. This statute makes complete provision for this offense, leaving nothing to supplement. The state having preempted the field, the ordinance must fall. Vanatta v. Town of Steamboat Springs, 146 Colo. 356, 361 P.2d 441 (1961).

Applied in People v. Kreiser, 41 Colo. App. 210, 585 P.2d 301 (1978); State, Motor Vehicle Div. v. Dayhoff, 199 Colo. 363, 609 P.2d 119 (1980); People v. Mascarenas, 632 P.2d 1028 (Colo. 1981); People v. Roybal, 655 P.2d 410 (Colo. 1982).