CRS 42-4-705 is the Colorado statute that requires motorists to yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles. This means moving towards the farthest right-hand lane when an emergency vehicle is approaching and driving with due care when passing a stationary emergency vehicle.
Examples of unlawful acts
- driving on a roadway and refusing to move over to let an ambulance pass.
- recklessly passing a police car that is parked on the right side of the road with its lights on.
- observing a fire truck, with its sirens on, in a rear-view mirror and failing to move to the right.
A person can raise a legal defense to challenge a traffic ticket for this offense. A few common defenses include the driver showing that:
- there was no emergency vehicle,
- an emergency vehicle did not have its sires or flashing lights on, and
- road conditions prevented compliance with the law.
A failure to yield to an approaching vehicle is a class A traffic infraction. Penalties include:
- a fine of $15 to $100, and
- four points on the motorist’s driving record.
A failure to yield to a stationary vehicle is typically a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Most cases are punishable by 10 to 90 days in county jail and/or $150 to $300 in fines in addition to four DMV points.
Our Colorado personal injury lawyers will highlight the following in this article:
- When is an offense under CRS 42-4-705?
- Can a motorist raise a legal defense?
- What are the penalties for violating the law?
- Can a failure to yield bring on other charges?
- How does a violation of the statute impact a personal injury lawsuit?
- Are there laws related to this statute?
When is the failure to yield to emergency personnel a crime?
According to Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-705, it is a traffic offense if a driver does not:
- move to the right when approached by an emergency vehicle with its sirens or flashing lights on,1 or
- pass a stationary emergency vehicle, with its sirens on, with due care and caution.
An “emergency vehicle” includes:
- police cars,
- fire trucks, and
- tow trucks.
Can a motorist raise a legal defense?
Traffic attorneys adopt different legal strategies to challenge failure to yield tickets. Some include showing that:
- there was no emergency vehicle.
- an emergency vehicle did not have its flashing lights on.
- unfavorable road conditions made compliance with the law impossible.
2.1 No emergency vehicle
This statute says that drivers must yield to emergency vehicles only. This means it is always a defense for a motorist to show that an approaching vehicle, or a stationary vehicle, was not such an automobile.
2.2 No sirens or lights on
Recall that a driver only has to yield to an emergency vehicle if it has its siren or flashing lights on. A defense, therefore, is for a motorist to show that a vehicle did not have these turned on.
2.3 Unfavorable road conditions
A driver can assert that he could not comply with this law because of unfavorable road conditions. Perhaps, for example, a driver could not yield to an approaching vehicle because of traffic to his right or road construction.
What are the penalties for violating the law?
A driver that fails to yield to an approaching emergency vehicle is guilty of a class A infraction.2 The penalties include:
- a maximum fine of $100, and
- four points on the motorist’s driving record.
A driver that fails to yield to a stationary emergency vehicle is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. If there are no injuries, penalties can include:
- imprisonment in jail of 10 to 90 days,
- a maximum fine of $300, and
- four points on one’s driving record.
If there are injuries, not yielding to a stationary emergency vehicle is a class 1 traffic misdemeanor carrying 10 days to 12 months in county jail and/or $300 to $1,000 in fines. And if death results, the driver faces charges for a class 6 felony carrying one year to 18 months in prison, and/or fines from $1,000 to $100,000.3
Can a failure to yield bring on other charges?
A failure to yield can lead to additional charges.
How does a violation of the statute impact a personal injury lawsuit?
A violation of this statute may help prove that a driver is negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.
“Negligence” means that:
- a party was responsible for causing an accident/injury, and
- must compensate the injured party for any injuries he/she sustained.
Are there laws related to this statute?
There are three laws related to this statute. These are:
- obedience to police officers – CRS 42-4-107,
- failure to obey traffic control devices – CRS 42-4-603, and
- unlawful use of an HOV lane – CRS 42-4-1012.
6.1 Obedience to police officers – CRS 42-4-107
CRS 42-4-107 is the Colorado statute that says that it is a crime when a person willfully fails to comply with any lawful order of a police officer.
6.2 Failure to obey traffic control devices – CRS 42-4-603
CRS 42-4-603 is the Colorado law that prohibits a motorist from failing to obey a traffic control device (e.g., a traffic light or a stop sign).
6.3 Unlawful use of an HOV lane – CRS 42-4-1012
CRS 42-4-1012 makes it an offense for any person to use a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane when he/she is in violation of restrictions imposed by:
- the Department of Transportation, or
- local authorities.
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.