There are several ways for a person to lose his or her privilege to drive in Colorado. A license can be revoked for an alcohol offense, an accumulation of an excessive number of points, failing to pay fines or judgments owed, or driving as a habitual traffic offender. Driving while your license is “restrained” for any reason is against the law. A distinction is made, however, for driving under restraint where the restraint is for alcohol-related reasons versus those restraints that are not based on alcohol offenses. For reference, many states refer to driving under restraint as driving under suspension. They are the same thing.
Driving Under Restraint (“DUR”) carries lesser penalties if the restraint on the license is not for alcohol-related reasons. To prove that you were driving under restraint for a non-alcohol related reason, the prosecution must prove 1) that you were driving a motor vehicle upon any highway or public roadway in Colorado on the date you were charged; 2) with knowledge that your license or privilege to drive, as a resident or non-resident, was restrained (suspended, revoked or denied); and 3) your license or privilege to drive was under restraint for any reason. If convicted, the court may impose a fine from $50 to $500, or imprisonment in the County jail from 5 days to 6 months, or both. The minimum 5 day jail sentence is mandatory and may not be suspended. This conviction would count as strike against you as a habitual traffic offender, and you will not be able to reinstate your driving privileges for another year (or longer on a second or subsequent offense).
Alcohol-related DUR carries more severe penalties. To convict you of DUR for alcohol-related reasons, the prosecution must prove 1) that you were driving a motor vehicle upon any highway or public roadway in Colorado on the date you were charged; 2) with knowledge that your license or privilege to drive, as a resident or non-resident, was restrained (suspended, revoked or denied); and 3) your license or privilege to drive was restrained under 42-2-126 or was restrained solely or partially because of a conviction of an alcohol/drug related driving offense under 42-4-1301. If convicted, the Court may impose a fine from $500 to $1,000, or imprisonment in the County jail from 30 days to one year, or both a fine and imprisonment. The minimum 30 day jail sentence is mandatory and may not be suspended. You will not be eligible to be issued a Colorado driver’s license or given any driving privileges for an additional year. On a second or subsequent offense, the penalties become even more severe, including a minimum 90-day jail sentence and a longer period of ineligibility for driving privileges.
Ultimately, these cases can often be easy for prosecutors to prove. There is, however, the requirement that the restrained person have knowledge that his or her ability to drive was restrained. If the notice of restraint was sent to the wrong address or if the driver took steps to remedy the restraint and reasonably believed that driving privileges had been restored after revocation or restraint, then there might be good arguments that the person did not drive with knowledge of restraint. An experienced lawyer can advise you if might have arguments against proof of any part of the charges against you.
Overall, the penalties for DUR are severe and include mandatory jail time. If you have been arrested on suspicion of or charged with DUR, you should contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss your options. Lawyers at CGH are standing by to help.