Curfew laws in Colorado come from both state and local laws. As residents of Colorado, it is each person’s duty to be aware of and follow any curfew laws that apply. Breaking a curfew could affect a personal injury claim, such as a car accident claim in Colorado. If you are involved in a traffic accident and cited for violating a curfew, you should talk to our Denver car accident attorneys right away about your case.
What is the Colorado curfew law?
Colorado has a statewide curfew for teen drivers. The law applies to drivers under the age of 20 years. Once a teen obtains a driver’s license, the state curfew law limits the hours the teen can drive. For the first year, the teen may not operate an automobile between midnight and 5:00 a.m. with some exceptions. Those exceptions include:
- The teen is accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or driving instructor
- The driver is accompanied by an adult 21 or older who has a valid driver’s license for more than one year
- The teen has to drive between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. due to a medical emergency
- School, a school activity, or work requires the teen to drive during the curfew hours AND the teen has a signed statement from the school or employer
- The driver is an emancipated minor
This Colorado teen driving curfew law exists to reduce the risk of teen driving accidents. Driving at night increases the risk of accidents, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), drowsy driving and environmental factors. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, teens are among the highest risk drivers for car accidents. Since the Colorado curfew law went into effect, those statistics have improved.
Teens who break the driving curfew law are subject to traffic infractions. This infraction can result in a fine, points on the teen’s driver’s license and mandatory community service. Repeat offenses increases the severity of penalties.
Other curfew laws in Colorado
Municipalities in Colorado have legal authority to enact curfew laws that apply within the city limits. Some Colorado cities have additional teen curfews beyond the state driving curfew. For example, Denver has an additional teen curfew law that applies within the city known as the SafeNight Curfew Program. Many other cities in the Denver area have their own city-wide teen curfews, such as Aurora, Lakewood, Littleton and Boulder.
Teens are not the only Colorado residents who may become subject to city-wide curfews. City governments have the authority to declare city curfew ordinances for public safety. During the George Floyd protests, the mayor of Colorado Springs enacted a five day curfew in 2020. Similarly, the mayor of Denver exacted a curfew in 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19. These curfew laws applied to everybody.
You should be aware of any city curfew laws in force in the city where you live and where your family may be. If you have teenagers, you should make sure they are aware of the driving curfew as well as general teen curfews. If they receive a citation for violating a curfew, it will not be a defense that they did not know about the law.
How could a curfew law affect my car accident claim?
If you or a teen driver in your home breaks a curfew at the time of a car accident, it could complicate or harm a collision claim. A defendant or insurance adjuster may argue that the teen driver shares some liability for the collision. That can delay resolution of a claim or even result in losing some or all compensation on your case.
In Colorado, most car accident and other personal injury claims rely on negligence as the legal reason one person is responsible for an injury to another. Negligence refers to an act or omission that a reasonable or prudent person could not have done under the same circumstances. For example, if evidence suggests the teen driver was drowsy and lost control of a car in the middle of the night, that may be reason an injured party could argue the teen driver caused some or all of that person’s injury.
Comparative negligence and negligence per se
A defendant could also argue violating the curfew law is itself a negligent act that supports a defense of comparative negligence. Under Colorado personal injury law, a defendant can argue another person is partially at fault for their own injuries. The injured person’s damages are reduced by the percentage of their own fault. If the injured person is 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover anything.
In Colorado, breaking a traffic law can be negligence per se. Negligence per se means it is a negligent act because the state decided the curfew statute is the standard for drivers of that age and experience. Breaking the curfew law itself gives a defendant (and their insurance company) the opportunity to raise a comparative negligence defense. Had the teen not been on the road in violation of the curfew, the accident would not have occurred. In that case, a jury could decide the teen driver is 50% or more at fault for their own injuries and award no money damages.
Talk to an experienced Denver attorney
If you get into a car accident in Colorado and the other driver violates curfew, the teen may be at fault for your injuries and related damages. You should talk to a Denver personal injury attorney right away about your case. An attorney can help you collect evidence against the other driver. That may include evidence of a broken curfew and a criminal case for the traffic citation. Your attorney can also pursue evidence of negligence to support a claim for full compensation for your case.