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What Are Colorado’s Road Rage Laws?

Posted on 12/26/23

As you navigate Colorado’s scenic roadways, disputes between drivers can occur, escalating to a phenomenon known as road rage. If you find yourself involved in such an incident that then results in your arrest – perhaps for menacing or assault charges related to the event – it’s critical for you to understand how Colorado law views and handles these situations and to seek help from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Colorado Road Rage Laws

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is a term that describes the escalation of aggressive driving behaviors, fueled by frustrations or anger behind the wheel. The triggers for road rage can vary spanning from traffic delays to perceived slights on other drivers’ part. Examples often consist of dangerous actions like passing on the shoulder, tailgating excessively, exiting vehicles to confront others directly, cutting off other vehicles without regard, or honking insistently in an aggressive way.

This Behavior Could Lead to Menacing Charges

When these behaviors are intentionally directed at others, they can instill a sense of fear and are intended to make them feel at risk. These acts become not only socially unacceptable but also illegal under Colorado law – falling within the scope of ‘menacing.’ According to Colorado law, menacing is defined as:

“A person commits the crime of menacing if, by any threat or physical action, he or she knowingly places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Menacing is a class 1 misdemeanor, but it is a class 5 felony if committed by the use of a firearm, knife, or bludgeon or a simulated firearm, knife, or bludgeon.”

Penalties For Menacing in Colorado 

Under Colorado law, menacing typically qualifies as a class 1 misdemeanor. If you have been charged with such an act and found guilty of this while engaging in road rage, you face substantial fines reaching up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to 364 days.

If you brandish or use a weapon during a road rage dispute, the act of menacing likely escalates into felony charges. In this case, the penalties significantly increase. Fines range from $1,000 to $100,000 and a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years and 2 years of parole once prison time has been served.

Additionally, felony charges carry long-term implications that extend far beyond immediate penalties – for example, potential disqualification from holding certain professional licenses or a prohibition on owning firearms.

Road Rage Could Also Lead to Vehicular Assault Charges

It’s essential to understand that these road rage incidents can lead not only to menacing charges but also to more serious offenses such as vehicular assault. Under Colorado law,

“…If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault…”

Vehicular Assault Penalties in Colorado

If your aggressive driving behavior results in the injury of another party, you could be convicted of a Class 5 felony. In this case, you face up to 3 years in prison and mandatory parole for up to 2 years, with fines reaching as high as $100,000.

Should your aggressive driving behaviors stem from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, these are seen as aggravating factors that increase your charges to a class 4 felony. If convicted, you face up to 6 years in prison with mandatory parole for 3 years and fines reaching $500,000.

Road rage incidents can lead to serious legal troubles like major fines and significant imprisonment but also have long-lasting effects that can drastically alter your life well after your sentence is served.

If you find yourself navigating such a situation, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.