Colorado's "Habitual Traffic Offender" Designation and DARP

What is a Colorado "habitual traffic offender"?

If you are designated a Colorado "habitual traffic offender," the Colorado DMV will automatically revoke your license.

Habitual offenders also face stiffer penalties than others if they drive with a revoked Colorado driver license. Driving on a revoked license as a habitual offender is a crime known as DARP (driving after revocation prohibited).1Consequences of DARP if you are a habitual offender include a mandatory minimum jail sentence and/or fine.

The best way to avoid stiff habitual traffic offender penalties is to avoid being designated a habitual offender in the first place. That's where we come in. Like all the best Colorado DUI defense lawyers we know how to fight Colorado vehicle offenses.

To help you better understand habitual traffic offenders and DARP, our Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss the following, below:

1. Definition of a Colorado habitual offender

You will be designated a Colorado habitual offender if you have three or more convictions within a period of seven years for:

You are also a habitual offender if you have:

  • 10 or more convictions within five years involving moving violations which provide for a Colorado DMV point assessment of four or more points each, or
  • 18 or more convictions within five years involving moving violations which provide for an assessment of three or fewer points each.

2. Colorado habitual offender penalties

As soon as a violation brings you within the definition of a habitual offender, the DMV will revoke your license. This is in additional to criminal penalties, if any, for the violation itself.

Penalties for habitual traffic offenders who drive with a revoked license can include:

  • 6-18 months imprisonment, and/or
  • A fine of $500-$5,000.

In addition, the court cannot sentence you to probation for DARP. The court must sentence you to:

  • a mandatory minimum jail term of 30 days, and/or 
  • a mandatory minimum fine of $3,000.2

The court may, however, suspend all or a portion of the mandatory jail sentence or fine to allow you to perform between 40 and 300 hours of useful public service. Upon the successful completion of the useful public service, the court will vacate the suspended sentence.

3. Habitual offenders and aggravated driving

Habitual offenders who drive with a revoked license commit the additional crime of aggravated driving when they:

  • drive recklessly, or 
  • elude (or attempt to elude) a police officer while driving.3

Aggravated driving with a revoked license is a class 1 misdemeanor. Consequences of aggravated driving in Colorado include:

  • 6-18 months imprisonment, and/or
  • a $500-$5,000 fine.

If you are a habitual offender who commits aggravated driving the court may not grant you probation. For habitual offenders, aggravated driving with a revoked license includes a mandatory minimum term of 60 days in the county jail.4

4. Fighting a Colorado habitual offender designation

Unless there are errors on your driving record, the only real way to fight a habitual offender designation is to fight the underlying charge that would put you over the limit.

However, for purposes of the “habitual offender” designation, only separate and distinct offenses count. Also convictions that occur within a 24-hour period count as just one conviction for purposes of this designation.

You can check the status of your driving record by purchasing a copy of your Colorado driving record. Non-certified copies are available for $2.60 at any full-service Colorado DMV office.

5. Call us for help...

If you have been charged with DARP as a habitual offender or another Colorado driving offense, we invite you to speak with one of our caring Colorado criminal defense lawyers. We represent clients accused of DUI and vehicular crimes throughout the state. For the fastest response, we recommend you use the contact form on this page. Or call us at:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street ste. 400
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202

Legal references:

  1. 42-2-206 (1)(a)(I), C.R.S. 
  2. 42-2-206 (1)(a)(II), C.R.S. 
  3. 42-2-206 (1)(b)(I), C.R.S.
  4. 42-2-206 (1)(b)(II), C.R.S.

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