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