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How Long Can You Drive with a Broken Windshield in Colorado?

By Timothy Bussey on November 21, 2017

broken-glass-269716_1920It’s extremely frustrating when your car suffers a cracked windshield and, regardless of how it happened, getting a windshield replaced can be time-consuming and expensive.

In Colorado, the main culprits of cracked windshields are road “sand” and heavy commercial trucks, which kick up small rocks and other debris. If you have spent any amount of time driving through the state, you are probably familiar with this common hazard.

Given its regularity, it can be tempting to ignore or put off the repair, especially if the crack is not particularly large. But are you exposing yourself to criminal charges by doing so?

Windshield Requirements

In Colorado, vehicles have required equipment. The required equipment includes, among other parts, the basic windshield. If you are driving on a Colorado road or highway you must have a windshield unless you are driving a classic or antique car that did not have a windshield when it was built. Windshields, in addition to actually being installed on a vehicle, must be made of safety glazing materials. C.R.S. 42-4-229. “Safety glazing material” is intended to substantially reduce the likelihood of injury. In addition to the materials necessary for a windshield, Colorado law also requires that all vehicles have operable windshield wipers (C.R.S. 42-4-227).

Violating these windshield laws carries fines of up to $100 dollars and is considered a class B traffic infraction. On a side note, C.R.S. 42-4-227 sets forth strict guidelines regarding window tinting and the number of passengers in the car, either of which could obstruct the view of the driver.

What About a Cracked Windshield?

But what about a cracked windshield? What does the law have to say about that?

Unfortunately, traffic enforcement as it relates to cracked windshields is very subjective. This stems from the fact that Colorado does not have specific laws that target cracked windshields. Even though there are no Colorado state laws regarding cracked windshields, motorists are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules. Pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, windshield cracks are not allowed to intersect, individual cracks cannot be larger than three quarters of an inch in diameter, and no two cracks can be closer than three inches to each other. Title 49: Transportation §393.60(c)(2)(3). Additionally, the area directly in front of the driver, from the top of the steering wheel to two inches from the top of the windshield, must be completely free of cracks, chips, and discolorations.

But what does the law say about how long you can drive with an illegal crack before getting it repaired? There is no mention of a time limit, meaning that you can be ticketed at any time. Though Colorado police are said to be “lenient” about this, that can change if you’ve had warning, or if the officer is just in a bad mood. In Colorado, if law enforcement reasonably believes that a crack actually obstructs your vision through the windshield then the law enforcement official has a basis to pull you over. See People v. Arias, 159 P.3d 134, 139 (Colo. 2007). If you find yourself in this situation, the officer will likely issue you a citation, at the very least, for the class A traffic infraction of obstructed view.

At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we understand that what may start as a seemingly minor traffic violation can have long-term repercussions, such as license suspension or revocation. With decades of experience litigating traffic matters both before and at trial, our team will work diligently to secure an optimal outcome of your case, saving you time, money, and possibly your license. Contact us at (719) 475-2555 to let us work to help protect your license and your reputation.

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