CRS 42-4-1409 is the Colorado statute that makes it a crime for a motorist to operate a motor vehicle without insurance. A violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense that is punishable by a minimum fine of $500.
42-4-1409 states states that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle or low-power scooter on the public highways of this state without a complying policy or certificate of self-insurance in full force and effect as required by law.”
Examples of unlawful acts
- driving a car without appropriate insurance in effect.
- operating a vehicle with no proof of insurance in the car.
- driving an auto with a canceled or outdated insurance policy.
Drivers can raise a legal defense to challenge any alleged violation of this law. A few common defenses include a person showing that:
- he/she has purchased insurance since the offense,
- he/she was not “operating” a vehicle, and/or
- an insurance policy was canceled without his/her knowledge.
A violation of this section is a misdemeanor traffic offense. This is opposed to a:
The offense is punishable by:
- a minimum mandatory fine of five hundred dollars.
- four points on the offender’s driver’s license, and/or
- 40 hours of community service.
Our Colorado personal injury lawyers will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is a crime under CRS 42-4-1409?
- 2. Can a person raise a legal defense?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can driving without insurance result in other charges?
- 5. Does a violation affect a personal injury lawsuit?
- 6. Are there laws related to this statute?
1. What is a crime under CRS 42-4-1409?
Colorado law makes it a crime for a person to operate a vehicle without auto insurance.1
Note that a person violates this offense by the simple failure to have insurance. A prosecutor does not have to prove that a police officer asked the driver for proof of insurance and the driver failed to comply.2
2. Can a person raise a legal defense?
Traffic lawyers can use several legal defenses to contest a violation of this law. A few common ones include showing that:
- the driver purchased insurance since the offense.
- the defendant was not “operating a vehicle” at the time of the offense.
- the accused’s insurance was canceled without his/her knowledge.
2.1 Subsequent purchase of insurance
A motorist can always raise the defense that he/she purchased automobile insurance since the date of the offense. Note, though, that such a showing does not excuse a person from violating this law. But the court may reduce a defendnt’s sentence if he/she opened an insurance policy after a ticket.
2.2 Not operating the vehicle
Recall that it is only a crime under state law if a person:
- had no insurance, and
- was operating a vehicle.
This means it is a valid defense for an accused to show that he/she was not operating a car. Perhaps, for example, the person was merely sitting in the driver’s seat of an auto that was parked or not tuned on.
2.3 Insurance canceled
Defendants can try to challenge a charge by showing that they had a reasonable belief that they were insured. In reality, though, it might be that a policy was canceled without their knowledge.
3. What are the penalties?
The State of Colorado says a violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.3 Penalties include:
- a minimum fine of $500,
- four points on the offender’s driver’s license, and
- a possible forty hours of community service at the discretion of the court.4
Note that the court may suspend up to one half of any fine if an accused shows that he/she has purchased insurance since the date of the offense.5
Upon a second or subsequent conviction under this statute, a defendant can be punished with:
- custody in jail for up to one year, and/or
- a maximum fine of one thousand dollars.
4. Can driving without insurance result in other charges?
Driving without insurance can lead to other charges.
Peace officers can charge or arrest a person of a crime whenever they have probable cause to believe he/she committed an offense. This means that once police stop a person for violating this statute, they can charge him/her of any other crime (e.g., DUI) if they have probable cause that an offense was committed.
5. Does a violation affect a personal injury lawsuit?
A violation of these laws does not necessarily impact a personal injury lawsuit.
Some violations of Colorado law can result in a person being negligent in a personal injury suit. But a CRS 42-4-1409 violation does not produce this result.
6. Are there laws related to this statute?
There are three laws related to this statute. These are:
- driving without a license – CRS 42-2-101,
- driving under restraint – CRS 42-2-138, and
- permitting an unauthorized person to drive – CRS 42-2-140.
6.1 Driving without a license – CRS 42-2-101
CRS 42-2-101 is the Colorado statute that makes it a crime to drive a motor vehicle without a current, valid driver’s license or learner’s permit.
6.2 Driving under restraint – CRS 42-2-138
CRS 42-2-138 is the Colorado law that prohibits driving under restraint (DUR), which is driving with a revoked or suspended license.
6.3 Permitting an unauthorized person to drive – CRS 42-2-140
CRS 42-2-140 is the Colorado ordinance that makes it an offense for someone to allow an unauthorized person to drive a vehicle.
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.
See our related article, Driving without Registration in Colorado – What is the Penalty?
- CRS 42-4-1409.
- People v. Martinez (2007) 179 P.3d 23.
- CRS 42-4-1409.
- See same.
- CRS 42-4-1409(4)(a).