UNDERSTANDING THE POINTS SYSTEM FOR DRIVING IN COLORADO
Dec. 2, 2016
Colorado drivers have to drive carefully if they don’t want to lose their driver’s licenses. If they get cited with a traffic violation, in addition to paying fines and court costs, they are assessed a number of points (points are bad). This means that every driver starts out with zero points and then gains points depending on infractions committed. If a person exceeds a certain number of points within a certain period of time, then they may have their license suspended. This is a breakdown of how that looks.
An adult driver is considered to be any driver who is 21 or over. If an adult gets 12 points in one year or 18 points in any two years their license is suspended. The amount of time is measured continuously. So if from January of 2015 to January of 2016 I only get 8 points, I am fine. But if from that January 2016 until January of 2017 I get 10 more points, then I will be suspended for excessive points over that two year period. The timing is determined by the dates of the violation and not the dates of any possible convictions related to the violation. It’s important to understand that administrative actions taken by the DMV are separate from any actions the courts may take.
Drivers under 21 are broken down into two categories: drivers 18-21 and drivers 17 and under. Drivers 18-21 can only get 9 points in one year or 12 in two. Additionally, garnering 14 points over their entire 18-21 year age period will yield a suspension. Younger drivers have the strictest guidelines. They may only get 6 points in one year and can only get 7 points total during the time they are 17 and under or else they face license revocation.
Professional drivers or chauffeurs are individuals who drive for a living, like cab drivers. They must be able to prove that they are employed as such during the time of the violation. For chauffeurs, the points are a bit more generous at 16 per year or 24 over two years. They also cannot get more than 28 points over 4 years. The DMV is unclear as to whether Uber or Lyft drivers are considered chauffeurs, so our recommendation is to maintain documentation of when you drive in case you need to prove that you were on the job when an infraction occurred.
Infractions and Their Points
Violations are assigned different numbers of points depending on their severity. For example, speeding over the limit by 5-9 mph will get you one point. But if you speed 40 mph or more over the posted limit you get the full 12 points and will be suspended. One of the most common ways people lose their license is by getting a DUI which is a 12 point infraction that leads to suspension in most cases.
Hearings and Suspensions
If you are cited but have not quite reached your points limit you may want to get an attorney to help you reduce the number of points you are assigned. However in more serious matters like a DUI, where you gain the full 12 points, there will be a DMV hearing to determine the length of the suspension. Again, an attorney may attend the hearing for you and try to reduce the length of the suspension. In rare cases, the attorney may be able to have the suspension dismissed. Considering the costs of a revocation and reinstatement this is well worth the effort in terms of time and money.
The DMV sometimes considers offering the suspended driver a probationary driver’s license. These are not guaranteed and are at the discretion of the hearing officer. If granted these licenses are very strict. They are usually only for travelling to and from school or work in Colorado only and any moving violation is an automatic suspension of the license.
After the revocation period is over you will want to reinstate your license. This is a somewhat cumbersome process that will involve several tasks, including getting and maintaining an intoxilyzer (car breathalyzer) if your suspension was related to driving under the influence of drinking or drugs. You may have to pay a fee, complete several forms, get SR-22 insurance and retake your driver’s tests.
The purpose of this system is to hold people accountable for their driving over time. But sometimes, even good drivers make mistakes that add up. If you find yourself facing suspension, contact us, we can help.