Colorado’s Speeding Laws

Read about Colorado’s speeding laws and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

Colorado has three types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law,” “presumed speed limits,” and “absolute speed limits.” This article explains the differences between the three and the consequences of a speeding violation.

(Also, check out our article that discusses the different types of speeding laws.)

Basic Speeding Law

Colorado’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed “greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a bright, sunny day. But if it’s dark and the road is icy, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1101 (2017).)                                         

Presumed Speed Limits

Most of Colorado’s speed limits are “presumed” rather than absolute limits. Exceeding a presumed speed limit leads to a presumption that you were driving an unsafe speed and therefore in violation of the law. But you still have the opportunity to prove in court that your speed was safe. If you’re able to do so, the judge is supposed to find you not guilty.

Unless otherwise posted, Colorado’s presumed speed limits include:

  • 25 miles per hour on narrow, winding mountain highways or blind curves
  • 25 miles per hour in business districts
  • 35 miles per hour in residential districts
  • 45 miles per hour on open mountain highways
  • 55 miles per hour on open state highways, and
  • 65 miles per hour on surfaced, four-lane interstate highways.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1101 (2017).)

Absolute Speed Limits

There is no trick to how Colorado’s absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 75 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Colorado’s absolute speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:

  • 75 miles per hour on any highway, and
  • 45 miles per hour while driving a low-powered scooter.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1101 (2017).)

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

The consequences of a speeding violation generally depend on how much faster than the speed limit the motorist was driving.

Exceeding the Speed Limit by 24 Miles Per Hour or Less

Motorists who exceed the speed limit by 24 miles per hour or less are guilty of a class A traffic infraction. A conviction generally carries the following penalties:

  • 1 to 4 miles per hour over the limit. Fines and surcharges total $36.
  • 5 to 9 miles per hour over the limit. Fines and surcharges total $80.
  • 10 to 19 miles per hour over the limit. Fines and surcharges total $151.
  • 20 to 24 miles per hour over the limit. Fines and surcharges total $232.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1701 (2017).)

Exceeding the Speed Limit by 25 Miles Per Hour or More

Motorists who exceed the speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more are guilty of a class 2 traffic misdemeanor. Convicted motorists are looking at $150 to $300 in fines and/or ten to 90 days in jail.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1701 (2017).)

Reckless Driving

Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. Colorado defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle with “a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A first conviction carries ten to 90 days in jail and/or $150 to $300 in fines. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1401(1) (2017).)

(Read more about Colorado’s reckless driving laws and penalties.)

Point System

Speeding violations where the driving exceeds the speed limit by at least five miles per hour will add points to a motorist’s driving record. The number of points depends on the amount by which the driver exceeds the limit. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-2-127 (2017).)

(Find out about Colorado’s traffic violation points system, including the number of points corresponding to different citations.)

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