CRS 42-4-1001 is the Colorado statute that makes it a traffic offense for a motorist to drive on the left side of the road. A few exceptions to this general rule do apply (e.g., when a motorist is overtaking and passing another car). Driving on the wrong side of a roadway is a class A traffic infraction.
42-4-1001 states that “Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway…”
Examples of unlawful acts
- driving on the far left of a two-way road when no other motor vehicles are around.
- failing to drive on the right half of a street while joyriding.
- driving on the left side of a road to peer over a mountain edge.
Motorists can raise a legal defense to challenge a ticket under this statute. A few common defenses include a driver showing that:
- there was an exception to the law,
- a road was not marked well, and/or
- there was an emergency.
Driving on the left side of the road is charged as a class A traffic infraction. This is opposed to a:
The offense is punishable by:
- a fine of one hundred dollars, and
- four points on the offender’s driver’s license.
Our Colorado personal injury lawyers will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. Do drivers in Colorado have to drive on the right-hand side of the road?
- 2. Can a person challenge a ticket with a legal defense?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can driving on the left side of a road result in other charges?
- 5. How does a violation impact a personal injury lawsuit?
- 6. Are there laws related to this statute?
Do drivers in Colorado have to drive on the right-hand side of the road?
According to Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1001, drivers in the state must drive on the right side of the road.1
A few exceptions to this rule do apply. For example, a motorist can drive on the left when:
- overtaking vehicles to pass,
- when an obstruction necessitates driving on the left side of the center of the roadway,
- when official traffic control devices restrict a road to one-way traffic.2
Can a person challenge a ticket with a legal defense?
Traffic lawyers draw on several legal strategies to challenge tickets for driving on the left. A few include showing that:
- an exception applies,
- a highway was not well marked, and
- there was an emergency.
Recall that there are a few exceptions to the general rule under this statute. Drivers are free to use these to show that, under the circumstances, it was permissible to drive on the left.
2.2 Highway not well marked
A motorist can always assert that a particular road or highway was not well marked. If true, the driver can show he/she did not know the car was in the left lane.
It is always a defense for a person to demonstrate that there was an emergency that necessitated driving on the left half of the road. Perhaps, for example, a driver had to:
- dodge around traffic to get to the hospital, or
- move out of the way for an emergency vehicle to pass.
What are the penalties?
Traffic offenses under this statute are charged as class A infractions.3 Penalties include:
- a fine of up to $100, and
- four points on the motorist’s driving record.
Note that a driver will suffer a license suspension if he/she gets too many points in a 12- or 24-month time period.4
Can driving on the left side of a road result in other charges?
Driving on the left can lead to other charges.
When police officers stop drivers for traffic violations, they can arrest or charge the drivers of any other offense (e.g., DUI), provided they have probable cause that a driver violated that particular law.
How does a violation impact a personal injury lawsuit?
A violation of this statute may show that a driver was negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.5
“Negligence” means that a person failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
In a personal injury suit, the negligent party has to compensate the injured party for any losses that he/she incurred.
Are there laws related to this statute?
There are three laws related to this statute. These are:
- driving a vehicle the wrong way on one-way roadways – CRS 42-4-1006,
- driving improperly on a mountain highway – CRS 42-4-711, and
- failing to pass to the right of oncoming vehicles – CRS 42-4-1002.
6.1 Driving a vehicle the wrong way on one-way roadways – CRS 42-4-1006
CRS 42-4-1006 is the Colorado traffic regulation that says, upon a roadway restricted to one-way traffic, a motorist shall only drive in the direction designated.
6.2 Driving improperly on a mountain highway – CRS 42-4-711
According to CRS 42-4-711, drivers traveling on mountain highways shall:
- maintain control of their cars, and
- drive as near to the right-hand edge of the highway as reasonably possible.
6.3 Failing to pass to the right of oncoming vehicles – CRS 42-4-1002
CRS 42-4-1002 is the Colorado statue that says vehicles proceeding in opposite directions must pass each other on the right.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a Colorado traffic attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.