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42-4-1402. Careless driving - penalty.


(1) 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 the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances, is guilty of careless driving. A person convicted of careless driving of a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or electric scooter is not subject to section 42-2-127.


(2) (a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection (2), any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.

(b) If the persons actions are the proximate cause of bodily injury to another, such person commits a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.

(c) If the persons actions are the proximate cause of death to another, such person commits a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.


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. 1280, 58, effective October 1. L. 2010: (2) amended,(SB 10-204), ch. 243, p. 1080, 2, effective May 21. L. 2019: (1) amended,(HB 19-1221), ch. 271, p. 2561, 12, effective May 23.


Editors note: This section is similar to former 42-4-1204 as it existed prior to 1994, and the former 42-4-1402 was relocated to 42-4-1602.

Cross references:

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). For note, The Careless Driver: His Wrong and His Rights, see 38 U. Colo. L. Rev. 584 (1966).

Annotators note. Since 42-4-1402 is similar to 42-4-1204 as it existed prior to the 1994 amendments to title 42 as enacted by SB 94-1, relevant cases construing that provision have been included with the annotations to this section.

This section is applicable and may be enforced in connection with acts of careless driving committed on private property used as a shopping center parking lot. Clark v. Bunnell, 172 Colo. 32, 470 P.2d 42 (1970); People v. Millican, 172 Colo. 561, 474 P.2d 789 (1970); People v. Erb, 173 Colo. 15, 475 P.2d 330 (1970).

This section preempts ordinance. In prosecution for violation of traffic ordinance, where this section makes complete provision for the offenses involved, leaving nothing to supplement, the ordinance must fall, the state having preempted the field. City of Aurora v. Mitchell, 144 Colo. 526, 357 P.2d 923 (1960).

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).

The actions of a defendant convicted of criminally negligent homicide may be the same as a person convicted under this section. The enactment by the general assembly of a specific criminal statute does not preclude prosecution under a general criminal statute unless a legislative intent to limit prosecution to the specific statute is shown. Here no such intent is found. People v. Tow, 992 P.2d 665 (Colo. App. 1999).

Careless driving is not a lesser included offense of vehicular assault (reckless). People v. Zweygardt, 2012 COA 119, 298 P.3d 1018.

A child who is in utero at the time of the careless driving offense who is subsequently born alive and dies from injuries sustained due to the offense can be a victim by virtue of the plain meaning of the statute. People v. Lage, 232 P.3d 138 (Colo. App. 2009).

Relationship of this section to probationary license regulation. Since the language of a department of revenue regulation concerning careless driving as an aggravating factor in the denial of a probationary license tracks the language of this section, a conviction under this section necessarily qualifies as an aggravating factor under the regulation. Edwards v. State Dept. of Rev., 42 Colo. App. 52, 592 P.2d 1345 (1978).

Violation of this section held to be negligence per se. Pyles-Knutzen v. Bd. of County Commrs, 781 P.2d 164 (Colo. App. 1989).

Applied in People v. Dickinson, 197 Colo. 338, 592 P.2d 807 (1979); State Motor Vehicle Div. v. Dayhoff, 199 Colo. 363, 609 P.2d 119 (1980); Heninger v. Charnes, 200 Colo. 194, 613 P.2d 884 (1980);. Smith v. Charnes, 649 P.2d 1089 (Colo. 1982); Sonoda v. State, 664 P.2d 259 (Colo. App. 1983).