CRS 42-4-703 is the Colorado traffic law that requires drivers to yield at intersections and crosswalks. Failure to yield right of way is a class A traffic infraction, with penalties including a civil fine and DMV points. There is no jail, but defendants who do not pay their ticket or who fail to appear in court face a driver’s license suspension by the DMV.
Below our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. What is “failure to yield” in Colorado?
- 2. What is the punishment under CRS 42-4-703?
- 3. How do I fight allegations of failure to yield?
- 4. What if I do not pay the ticket?
- 5. Is not yielding probable cause for a DUI arrest?
- 6. How do I sue a driver for failure to yield?
CRS 42-4-703 requires drivers to abide by stop signs or yield signs at intersections and crosswalks. And if there is no stop or yield sign, drivers are still expected to pause and yield right-of-way to pedestrians and closely approaching traffic.
Note that if there is a traffic officer at the scene directing the flow of motor vehicles, the officer’s directions override what the official traffic control devices and other traffic signals indicate.
CRS 42-4-703 typically comes into play in residential or unpopulated areas where there are no traffic lights and no yield or stop lines / signs at intersections. The default safety standards for uncontrolled intersections is for every driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection to yield and prepare to stop for traffic or pedestrians.1
As a class A traffic infraction, failure to yield or come to a complete stop when necessary carries no jail time under Colorado law. Instead, defendants face the following penalties for these traffic violations:
- Fines from $15 to $100,
- A small surcharge, and
- Four (4) DMV points
In addition, defendants’ auto insurers may increase their rates since failure to yield is a moving violation.
How best to defend against CRS 42-4-703 charges depends on the available evidence, which typically includes surveillance video and eyewitnesses. But in general, four possible defense arguments are:
- There was an emergency which made failing to yield the reasonable thing to do. (An example may be making way for an emergency vehicle or eluding a falling tree branch, as long as the defendant did exercise due care otherwise.)
- The police officer made an error and cited the wrong motorist.
- Another driver falsely accused the defendant.
- The driver was following a traffic control signal instructing him/her to keep driving without stopping.
Since violating CRS 42-4- 703 is just a traffic infraction, courts will not issue a bench warrant if the defendant is a no-show in court or does not pay the fine. But there are consequences for ignoring citations for a traffic offense.
First, the judge will enter a default judgment against the defendant. So the defendant will be hearing from a collections agency.
Second, the DMV punishes non-payment by suspending the person’s license until the debt is paid. In practice, the DMV gives defendants a 30-day warning before issuing the suspension.3
Also refer to our page on driving with a suspended license / driving under restraint (CRS 42-2-138).
Not by itself. But whenever local authorities pull over drivers who neglect to stop or yield for oncoming traffic, they will be on the lookout for telltale signs of DUI or DWAI. These include slurred speech, red and glassy eyes, and the smell of alcohol or marijuana.
If the police officer suspects the driver is under the influence, the driver may be asked to take a preliminary breath test and submit to field sobriety tests. If the driver fails these tests, then the officer will have sufficient probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI.
When a car accident occurs because a driver was coasting through an intersection, the victim(s) may sue the driver for negligence per se. This claim has four elements that plaintiffs must prove by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The defendant (at-fault driver) broke a traffic regulation (such as CRS 42-4-703);
- The purpose of the traffic regulation is to protect people such as the plaintiff (fellow drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians);
- The defendant’s unlawful actions injured the plaintiff; and
- These injuries resulted in money damages.4
Very few automobile collision cases reach trial. Most of the time, the plaintiff’s Colorado personal injury law firm negotiates a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company.
The personal injury attorney’s job is to fight for the largest compensatory damages award possible to reimburse the plaintiff for pain and suffering, lost salary, medical expenses (especially if there was bodily injury), and property damage.4
Cited in California? See our article on failing to yield (CVC 21804).
Cited in Nevada? See our article on failing to yield (NRS 484B.283).
- Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-703 CRS.
- CRS 42-2-127.
- CRS 42-4-1709.
- Bullock v. Wayne, 623 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (D. Colo. 2009); CRS 42-4-703 (Under the provision of this section, “[I]f a driver is involved in a collision with a vehicle in the intersection or junction of roadways after driving past a yield sign without stopping, such collision shall be deemed prima facie evidence of the driver’s failure to yield right-of-way“).