Colorado has some of the harshest penalties for repeat offenders. In fact, the state’s habitual traffic offender law comes with harsh penalties, some of which include mandatory prison time.
However, being notorious for running stop lights once a week and receiving a ticket does not classify you as a “habitual” offender. Instead, the law requires that you are convicted of three or more major traffic offenses before you receive your title. Also, these three major offenses must be convicted within the same seven-year window to qualify.
What is a Major Traffic Offense?
Major traffic offenses are those that typically include jail time if you are convicted, such as:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Reckless driving
- Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license
- Motor vehicle theft
- Negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter
- Hit and run
- Providing false information to the Department of Motor Vehicles
Therefore, if you are found guilty of these offenses three times in that seven-year window, you could face habitual offender penalties.
What are the Penalties of Being a Habitual Offender?
Once you are considered a habitual traffic offender, the judge may issue multiple penalties and punishments. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation – The judge may suspend or revoke your driver’s license for up to five years.
- Mandatory Prison Time – If you commit another major traffic offense after you have been labeled, you may face a class 6 felony, which includes two years in prison and a $100,000 fine (when applicable). If you are found driving on a revoked license after being labeled a habitual offender, you will face 30 days to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $5,000 or both.
- Forfeiture of the Vehicle – The city attorney’s office can ask that they forfeit the vehicle used in your major offenses because you and your vehicle are considered a public nuisance.
Protecting Yourself from Habitual Offender Charges
Being classified as a habitual offender is very serious. It will impact you for not just those seven years, but the rest of your life. Regardless if the look-back period expires, you have criminal convictions on your record that could prevent you from getting a job, entering the military, or even qualifying for public aid programs.
It is in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney in Colorado before this happens. Here are just some of the ways an attorney can help:
- An attorney can help prevent a license revocation and the fines that come along with it.
- Your attorney will find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to reduce the chances of a guilty conviction.
- Your attorney can negotiate for a plea to a lesser offense – so that you are not categorized as a habitual offender.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado Today
Avoid the penalties of being a habitual offender by contacting a criminal defense attorney at once. Defending these types of charges is extremely complex; so, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney with experience in DUI and other traffic-related offenses.