DMV Point Suspensions in Colorado

Updated

A Colorado driver's license point suspension is when the DMV suspends a person's license for accruing too many DMV points from traffic violations. For adults 21 and older, amassing 12 points in a 12-month period results in a 6-to-12-month suspension. The DMV hearing officer determines the length of the suspension and whether to grant the driver a probationary driver's license (PDL) during the suspension.

In this article, our Denver criminal defense attorneys discuss:

A driver's license in a wallet that can be suspended if the license-holder accrues too many DMV points.
12 DMV points in 12 months causes a suspension in Colorado.

1. What are DMV point suspensions in Colorado?

Every traffic violation puts points on the driver's record. If the driver amasses a certain number of points in a certain time period, the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles automatically suspends the driver's license.1

The more serious the traffic offense, the more points it carries. Here is a sampling:

Traffic violation

Colorado DMV point value

Leaving the scene of an accident / hit-and-run (CRS 42-4-1601, -1602)

12

DUI or DUI per se (CRS 42-4-1301)

12

Speed contests (CRS 42-4-1105)

12

Evading an officer (CRS 42-4-1413)

12

DWAI (CRS 42-4-1301)

8

Reckless driving (CRS 42-4-1401)

8

UDD - underage drinking and driving

4

Failure to show proof of insurance

4

Improper passing

4

Careless driving (CRS 42-4-1402)

4

Improper turn

3

Failure to yield right-of-way

3

Failure to signal

2

No seat belt

2

Defective headlamps

1

Driving 5 to 9 mph over the speed limit

1

2. How many DMV points trigger a license suspension?

It depends on the driver's age and whether they are professional drivers:

Driver

License suspension threshold in Colorado

Minor drivers (under 18 years of age)

  • 6 points in 12 months, or
  • 7 points before turning 18

Adults age 18 to 20

  • 9 points in 12 months,
  • 12 points in 24 months, or
  • 14 points between turning 18 and before becoming 21

Adults age 21 and older

  • 12 points in 12 months, or
  • 18 points in 24 months

Chauffeurs (such as taxi drivers)

  • 16 points in 12 months,
  • 24 points in 24 months, or
  • 28 points in 48 months

Note that chauffeurs have laxer standards than regular drivers. But they bear the burden to show the DMV that their points were amassed while they were on-duty as chauffeurs. Typical proof is work records and receipts.

A woman traveling in the backseat of an Uber after her license got suspended from too many speeding tickets.
Each Colorado traffic infraction is assigned DMV points.

3. How long will the driver's license suspension last?

Six months to one year.

4. Can license suspensions be contested?

No. But license-holders are entitled to a DMV hearing to argue for the minimum suspension period (6 months). The DMV hearing officer (like a judge) takes into account both aggravating and mitigating factors.

Mitigating factors are considerations that suggest the driver deserves a shorter suspension period. An example is that the driver's driving habits have been getting better. Or that the driver has taken traffic school.

In contrast, aggravating factors suggest that the driver deserves the maximum suspension period. Five examples are:

  1. The driver caused an accident.
  2. The traffic violation was serious (such as DUI).
  3. The driver hid pending traffic ticket cases.
  4. The driver had a PDL (probationary driver's license) before.
  5. The driver repeatedly violated the same traffic law.

Drivers can hire an attorney to represent them at DMV hearings, but the drivers must also attend. Drivers who do not attend their DMV hearing get the maximum 1-year suspension.

Drivers have 30 days after the hearing to appeal the findings. They would need to show that the hearing officer either:

  • Failed to follow the law,
  • Acted arbitrarily and capriciously, or
  • Exceeded their authority

5. How do I get a probationary license?

The hearing master at the DMV hearing (discussed above) determines whether to grant the driver a probationary driver's license (PDL). PDLs are also called red licenses. They permit the license-holder to drive to work, school, and/or other essential locations.

There is a zero tolerance policy for people with PDLs. They may drive only in Colorado. If they pick up another traffic ticket, they automatically lose the PDL - even if they plan to fight the ticket in court. And if police catch them driving for a non-permitted purpose, they can confiscate the PDL.

Note that people who had a PLD in the past are less likely to get one in the future.

6. What happens when the suspension ends?

People have to formally apply to get their licenses and driving privileges reinstated. This typically involves:

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For legal help call 303-222-0330.

In California? Learn about negligent operators.

In Nevada? Learn about the demerit point system.


Legal References

  1. Colorado Revised Statutes 42-2-127 CRS; 1 CCR 211-3. The DMV also goes by the Division of Motor Vehicles under the Department of Revenue in the state of Colorado.
  2. Same; Edwards v. Motor Vehicle Div., 33 Colo. App. 382, 520 P.2d 598 (1974)
  3. CRS 42-2-127; 1 CCR 211-3.
  4. Same.
  5. Same; Ewing v. Motor Vehicle Div., 624 P.2d 353 (Colo. App. 1980)
  6. Same.

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