Gov. Hickenlooper signs new laws that aim to make Colorado roads safer

On Thursday, June 1, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three bills intended to help improve safety on Colorado’s roads.

At a ceremony at the Denver Police Department’s District 3 office, the governor signed SB17-027, sponsored in the House by Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora). Under the new law, which goes into effect immediately, penalties for texting while driving are increased to a $300 fine and 4 points for each offense.

Previously, the penalty was a $50 fine and one point for a first offense and a $100 fine and one point for a second or subsequent offense.

“Distracted drivers are one of the most common dangers Coloradans face in their daily lives,” Melton said. “Unfortunately, ‘don’t text and drive’ is just a slogan unless we give it some teeth. This bill does exactly that.”

Hickenlooper also signed Rep. Jonathan Singer’s (D-Longmont) HB17-1315, which will collect and analyze data on people convicted of driving while impaired. The analysis will be paid for via a $2 surcharge on those convicted of substance-affected driving.

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“Five years after the legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s time we gave our law-enforcement agencies a better handle on what they’re facing on our streets and highways,” Singer said.

The new law takes effect on Aug. 9, the 90th day after the end of the 2017 legislative session.

At the Colorado State Patrol office in Castle Rock, Hickenlooper signed SB17-229, which sets penalties as high as a Class 6 felony for motorists who kill or injure others by failing to yield to stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks or public-utility vehicles.

The new law, sponsored in the House by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs), is also known as the “Move Over for Cody Act,” in memory of Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue, who was killed last year by the driver of a vehicle that struck Trooper Donahue while he and a partner were investigating an accident on the shoulder of Interstate 25 near Castle Rock.

“The ‘move over’ law protects our first responders and motorists in trouble,” Mitsch Bush said. “If this new law prevents even one needless death, it will have been well worth it.”

SB17-229 takes effect immediately.

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