What Is Driving Under Restraint in Colorado?

If your driver's license has been suspended or revoked in the Centennial State and you get caught driving, you may be charged with driving under restraint in Colorado. That's a criminal charge that can result in heavy fines and even jail time. Here's what you need to know to beat that charge.

What Does Driving Under Restraint Mean in Colorado?

Driving under restraint (DUR) means driving when your license is suspended, revoked, denied, or restrained. Many other states call this driving while your license is suspended or revoked. However, driving under restraint is actually a broader term. Restraint can also include situations where you're allowed to drive some of the time, such as only to and from work, but not drive for other reasons or at a time not allowed by your restrictions.

Alcohol related offenses, such as DUI, are one of the most common reasons for your driver's license to be suspended. Marijuana related offenses, such as DWAI, are another common reason to lose your privilege to drive a motor vehicle. However, it's important to understand that Colorado driving under restraint includes any situation where you were driving under suspension or have your license or privilege restricted.

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving With a Suspended License in Colorado?

The police have two main ways they find out your driver’s license is suspended. One is if they stop you for another traffic violation. The other is if they run your license plate and their computer alerts them that it belongs to a suspended driver.

In many cases, the police will arrest you and bring you to jail. They believe that driving with a suspended license is very dangerous because you need to be a habitual traffic offender or commit a very serious violation, such as reckless driving, to get your license suspended. This isn't always the case.

Your license might get automatically get suspended if you miss a toll and accidentally throw away the notice, or if the check to pay your speeding ticket gets lost in the mail. If the officer doesn't exercise their discretion to let someone else drive your car home and still arrests you, it doesn't mean you're guilty. The prosecution has to prove that you knew your license was suspended or under restriction.

It's also important to understand that the officer letting you leave doesn't mean you haven't been charged. In some cases, they may issue you a criminal citation instead of taking you into custody. A criminal citation is not the same as a speeding ticket. It still means that you have been charged with a crime.

Can You go to Jail for Driving Without a License in Colorado?

If you've been convicted of driving under restraint or driving without a license, you can go to jail.

If the offense was DUI, DWAI, or similar charges, there is mandatory jail time of at least 30 days on the first offense. The maximum jail sentence is one year, and there is also a fine of $500 to $1,000. For a second offense within five years of the first offense, the jail time increases to 90 days minimum to two years maximum. The fine is $500 to $3,000.

If you were under restraint for any other reason, there is no mandatory jail time. The potential sentence is up to six months in jail and/or up to $500 in fines at the judge's discretion.

What Are the Defenses to Driving Under Restraint?

There are three common defenses to a driving under restraint charge.

  • The police officer was wrong about your license status. This could be a situation where you have a restricted license, and the officer charges you for driving when you were actually permitted to be driving. It could also be an administrative problem, such as your license not getting reinstated when it was supposed to be according to the judge that suspended your license.
  • You didn't know you were under restraint. This would usually be an automatic suspension. For example, you may not have responded to a speeding ticket or paid a toll notice. You should have gotten a letter in those situations, but it may have gotten lost in the mail or gone to an old address. You usually can't say you didn't know if it was something you had to go to court for. You generally have to acknowledge the suspension in court.
  • You had an emergency. While not technically a defense, the judge or prosecutor may use their discretion to dismiss the charges or reduce your sentence if you had to drive because of an emergency. For example, a family member fell ill and needed to go to the emergency room, and you were the only person available to drive them. You will need to be prepared to show evidence of the emergency and that you were the only one who could drive.

Keep in mind that the burden of proof is always on the police and prosecutor. You don't need to be actually innocent or to prove your innocence to be found not guilty. All you need to do is introduce reasonable doubt. If you believe there were any circumstances that could explain your driving or why you didn't know you were under restraint, talk to an attorney about them. It may be possible to beat the charge on a technicality even if you really think you shouldn't have been driving.

Work With An Experienced Attorney

To get help from an attorney with criminal and traffic practice areas, contact our law firm today. Our experienced attorney will help you explore your defenses to your driving under restraint charge and any related charges. Our mission is to fight for your rights and to defend your ability to drive. We serve the state of Colorado including Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County. Call (303) 818-7209 to schedule an appointment now.


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