Driving Under Restraint in Colorado—What’s at Stake
Driving under restraint (sometimes called “driving under suspension”, or “driving under revocation”) is a common criminal charge in Colorado. Unpaid tickets from years ago, a late child support check, too many points, a DWAI, a lapse in insurance coverage, etc.—all can lead to a license suspension, often without any warning.
Once you are under restraint, it can be tricky to jump through all of DMV’s hoops to reinstate. And if you need to drive to work and live, you may find yourself cheating here and there to make ends meet. Just know that if you get caught, you will not receive sympathy from the prosecutor or judges. In fact, you will not only be facing criminal charges, but your license revocation will be extended. A traffic lawyer who can both fight for you in criminal court and deal with the DMV is critical to getting you back on the road.
In Colorado, driving under restraint is a traffic misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. A conviction will extend any suspension or restraint on your license by 1 year, and will count as a “strike” towards becoming a habitual traffic offender, which is a 5 year suspension with harsh penalties if you are caught driving. Moreover:
–If the restraint is due to a DUI or DWAI, the maximum penalty is 1 year instead of 6 months, and there is a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail (but in home detention might be possible).
–If the restraint is due to the financial responsibility act (for example, if your license was suspended due to back child support), there is a mandatory minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 6 months. In this special case, though, the conviction is not considered a major traffic offense and does not count towards habitual traffic offender status.
–Note it is a special challenge to be under restraint if you are an undocumented immigrant. You may be the safest driver in Colorado, but your inability to get a license means you will be in and out of courts on driving under restraint charges. Call a lawyer if this is the case.
Matthew Hand is an experienced Denver criminal and traffic lawyer who understands how important it is for you to stay out of jail and retain your driver’s license. He has dealt with DMV consequences and the criminal courts in hundreds of driving under restraint cases.
Call Matthew Hand for a free consultation: (303) 900-8480.
Defending Driving Under Restraint Charges
To convict you of driving under restraint, the DA must show that 1) you were driving on a highway, 2) that you were restrained, and 3) that you knew you were restrained.
Obviously the DA needs evidence that you were driving—not just about to get in a car. Note also that it has to be driving on a highway—most roads in Colorado are considered highways for the purposes of this law, but not all. Talk to a lawyer to see if you have a defense there. Second, you had to be under restraint. Sometimes the DMV makes a mistake, and if you can go back and clear up that mistake, the DA may dismiss the charge. Third, you had to have received notice of the suspension—it’s not fair to prosecute you for a suspension you didn’t know about. Typically, the DMV will just send a letter to the last address they have on file, and that address may be wrong. Drivers suspended for back child support or lapses in insurance may not find out about their suspension until the next time they are stopped by police for speeding.
Driving is critical to your work and life, and the penalties for driving under suspension can quickly multiply until you are a habitual traffic offender and looking at lengthy jail terms. Stop the cycle now, get help from a lawyer and develop a plan. Fight your charges in trial, or get a plea deal you can accept, and figure out how to manage your life without your car until you reinstate your license.