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Penalties for texting while driving increase in Colorado

Passed by the Colorado Senate in March and the House in April, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17-027 on June 1 -- and, in doing so, dramatically increased the penalties for texting while driving in the Centennial State.

Now, any driver allegedly caught texting behind the wheel will face a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, punishable by a fine of $300. Under previous Colorado law, texting while driving was simply a Class A traffic infraction, and violators had to pay a fine of only $50

In addition, texting drivers will get four points on their licenses per violation under this new legislation, as opposed to only one point under the previous law.

Given that adult drivers over the age of 21 can have their licenses suspended if they accumulate 12 points or more within one year -- and even fewer points for younger drivers -- it is easy to see how four points per violation could add up to trouble very quickly.

When can police cite you for texting while driving?

While the penalties for texting while driving did increase significantly, it is important to mention that Colorado law states that a driver cannot be cited for violating the texting law unless a police officer sees the driver actually using their cellphone for texting, and this texting is done:

"[I]n a manner that cause[s] the operator to drive in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances."

Even though this may seem like a high standard, many believe this new law will nevertheless results in more license suspensions.

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