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Colorado Windshield Law

August 23, 2021

Driving with a cracked or obstructed windshield is not only annoying for a driver; it is against the law in Colorado. As the owner or operator of a motor vehicle in Colorado, it is your responsibility to make sure that your car is roadworthy. It must comply with all state vehicle operation and maintenance requirements, including Colorado’s windshield laws.

Colorado Windshield Law

What Is Colorado’s Windshield Law?

Colorado’s windshield law specifically pertains to the front window of a vehicle and its requirements for a driver’s visibility. As a motor vehicle owner in Colorado, you must make sure that your windshield is up to par, or else face a potential fine and other consequences. Colorado Revised Statute Section 42-4-227 prohibits driving a motor vehicle with obstructed windows. Other laws, such as C.R.S. 42-4-201, also have requirements in place for vehicle windshields. These laws require:

  • No obstructions. State law says that no vehicle shall be driven on a highway unless the driver has a normal and unobstructed view through any required glass equipment. Although it does not go into detail, generally a driver cannot have cracks, damage, stickers, writing, flyers, GPS devices or anything else affixed to the portion of the windshield in front of the driver’s face.
  • No dark tint. Going too dark with a vehicle’s window tinting is against the law in Colorado. Tinting material can qualify as an illegal obstruction if it allows less than 27 percent of visible light transmission through or tints the front windshield.
  • Working windshield wipers. State law also requires working windshield wipers to keep a driver’s view clear in bad weather. These wipers must adequately clear the windshield of rain, snow or other moisture.

In essence, Colorado’s windshield laws prohibit any issues that may obstruct a driver’s view of the road while driving. If a reasonable driver could not clearly see out of the windshield or other car windows, the driver may not lawfully be allowed to operate the motor vehicle until the issue has been remedied. Doing so is an infraction that could lead to a traffic ticket for the driver. It could also lead to legal responsibility for a related car accident.

At What Point Is a Cracked Windshield Illegal in Colorado?

The front window or windshield of a vehicle could easily become cracked or broken in a car accident. The glass could also crack if debris on the road flies up and strikes the windshield, such as a rock, pebble or loose gravel. It is a driver’s responsibility not to operate a motor vehicle with a cracked or damaged windshield. A cracked windshield is only illegal in Colorado, however, if it obstructs a driver’s clear view of the road.

Since there is no exact definition of what does and does not constitute an obstruction of view, it is often up to a police officer’s opinion whether or not a cracked windshield breaks state law. The officer conducting the traffic stop may give a driver a citation if the crack is in front of his or her face, for example, and could reasonably present a hazard. It is best practice to repair or replace a windshield with any type of crack, chip or damage.

Am I Liable for an Accident if I Have a Cracked Windshield?

If you knowingly operate a motor vehicle with an obstructed windshield – such as from broken glass, dark tint or no working windshield wipers – you could bear liability for a related car accident in Colorado. Driving a car with an obstructed view of the road is a violation of your duty of care to other drivers and roadway users. If this causes or significantly contributes to a vehicle collision, your car insurance provider will be responsible for paying for a victim’s related expenses.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and suspect that the other driver is to blame because of a cracked or compromised windshield, take photographs of the windshield problem before you leave the scene of the car accident. Then, consult with a car accident lawyer in Denver for assistance. An attorney can help you prove the other driver’s fault, such as by establishing that the windshield had an issue before the collision. A lawyer can help you obtain fair financial compensation for your crash.