Colorado Driving Under Restraint Laws

As with every state, it is illegal to drive without a valid license in Colorado. There are a variety of reasons and scenarios that a driver may be ticketed or charged when they are pulled over without a valid driver’s license issued by the state. While not all of these situations will result in a ticket or an arrest, you should understand your driving privileges and your rights when you are stopped by a traffic cop.

Driving Illegally

In the state of Colorado, driving is a privilege that is acquired by proving to the state’s Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles that you are capable of safely operating a motor vehicle on public roads and that you understand the laws you are to abide by while doing so. The state will issue you a driver’s license that denotes what vehicles you are legally authorized to drive.

Every driver is required to have their driver’s license in the vehicle that they are driving at the time of operation. While it is illegal to drive without it, the charges of driving without a valid driver’s license will often be dropped if and when you prove that you do, indeed, have a valid driver’s license. This is beneficial for those who misplace or forget their driver’s license at home but should not be counted on as routine.

If you have never been issued a driver’s license — if you never applied for one — or your driver’s license has expired, regardless of which state the license was issued in, it is illegal for you to drive in Colorado. If your license is expired, you’ll want to get it renewed as soon as possible at your county’s drivers license office.

If you had a valid drivers license, but it has been suspended, revoked, canceled, or denied, you are legally not authorized to drive in Colorado or any other state.
Suspended license: a temporary withdrawal of privileges.
Revoked license: a mandatory restraint on driving privileges. A revoked license cannot be re-issued and requires reinstatement of driving privileges.
Canceled license: the action to void a drivers license and deny privileges in Colorado.
Denied license: a restraint of license issue.

The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend or revoke your license for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Conviction os a major traffic crime, including vehicular homicide.
  • Accumulation of too many points on your driving record.
  • Conviction of DUI, DWAI, or underage drinking and driving (UDD).
  • Driving without auto insurance.
  • Providing alcohol to a minor.
  • Violating child support order.

Driving Under Restraint

Driving under restraint (DUR) or Driving under suspension (DUS) are possible charges that you may face if you are caught driving with the knowledge that your driver’s license is under restraint for any reason DUR/DUS is a misdemeanor that carries a possible jail sentence of up to six months, fines of up to $500, and revocation of driving privileges.

Driving Under Restraint Alcohol-Related

Alcohol-related driving restraints (DUR-ALC) carry harsher penalties including mandatory jail time and heftier fines. Colorado law specifies these six charges as DUR-ALC:

  • Accumulation of points on drivers license for any alcohol-related offense.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • DUI per se (a DUI based solely on blood-alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08).
  • Driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
  • Underage drinking and driving (UDD).
  • An alcohol-related criminal offense in another state.

Aggravated Driving Under Restraint

Aggravated DUR in Colorado is the crime of committing a traffic violation of driving a car while your driver’s license is suspended or revoked. If you are charged with a DUR due to being a habitual traffic offender (HTO) at the same time you are charged with one of the following, it is considered an aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (Agg. DARP).

  • Reckless driving
  • Eluding the police
  • Failure to report an accident
  • Alcohol-related violations — DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, and UDD

Special Circumstances

If you drive while your license is revoked, you can be deemed a habitual offender and face harsher penalties including mandatory jail time and steeper fines, in addition to extended driving limitations.
Exception for emergencies may be granted if you can prove that you only drove on a revoked or suspended license because there was a legitimate emergency and there was no other viable option. If an exception is granted, you may still be subject to jail time or fines, at the discretion of the court, but mandatory jail time is not obligated.

Consequences of Driving Under Restraint in Colorado

Possible consequences that may result from a guilty verdict of DUR/DUS include:

DUR Charge Presumptive Sentencing Presumptive Fines Presumptive Additional Driving Restraint
First Offense – Not Alcohol-Related Up to 6 months Up to $500 Up to 1 additional year
Second or Subsequent Offense – Not Alcohol-Related Up to 6 months Up to $500 Up to 3 additional years
First Offense – Alcohol-Related 30 days to 1 year, 30 days mandatory $500 to $1,000
Second or Subsequent Offense – Alcohol-Related 90 days to 2 years, 90 days mandatory $500 to $3,000 4 years of ineligibility to obtain driver’s license

Driving Under Restraint Legal Defenses

When you are charged with a DUR/DUS in Colorado Springs, there are a number of defenses that you and your attorney may be able to apply to your case. Depending on the circumstances, some defenses may include:

You did not receive notice that your license was revoked or suspended.

If you are not aware that you are not authorized to operate a motor vehicle, you would not be aware that you are driving illegally. This can easily happen when a driver moves and has not yet informed the Department of Revenue, so the notice is sent to the wrong location.

Failing to forfeit your license at the time of revocation can carry misdemeanor charges and impact your driving privileges for a lifetime. If you did not receive proper notice, don’t let your future be negatively impacted, get proper legal counsel to defend you.

You reasonably did not know that your license was revoked or suspended.

Many people, mistakenly, believe that once their suspension or revocation time period has lapsed, their driving privileges are automatically reinstated. If your license was suspended or revoked at the time of the DUR/DUS charge, but the previous suspension or revocation had expired, you may be eligible for this defense.

Unconstitutional traffic stop.

An unconstitutional traffic stop defense may be warranted if the law enforcement officer did not have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the traffic stop. For instance, driving at night, leaving a bar, or random vehicle stops are not adequate to justify a stop. If the traffic stop is unconstitutional and the DUR/DUS was discovered as a result, the stop may be deemed inadmissible at a criminal trial.

Reasonable suspicion is when a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a crime or traffic violation has been committed or that the driver is hiding evidence of a crime.
Probable cause is the standard at which a reasonably intelligent would be led to believe that the driver committed a crime.

Driving was due to an emergency.

In an emergency situation where there is no other viable option, your defense attorney may be able to argue that you only drove because you had to. For the courts to accept this defense, you may have to prove that you knowingly operated a vehicle on a suspended or revoked license or under the influence because a life or the safety of another person depended on it.

When you are charged with a DUR/DUS, it is important that you invoke your right to counsel and seek an experienced local attorney to help you build your case. The consequences of a guilty verdict can significantly impact your life. If you are charged with driving under restraint in Colorado Springs, contact Murphy and Price LLP so we can help you build your defense.