Aurora, CO asked in Traffic Tickets for Colorado

Q: Is it legal to pass car on interstate using shoulder if the driver in front slams on brakes to avoid collision?

I was driving on northbound I 25 in Denver, and I came upon this car in the left lane whom was driving under the speed limit and appeared to be texting. They kept drastically speeding up and then slowing down, so they might have also been under the influence. There was no way for me to pass on the right lane because I was boxed in. There was a string of cars gathering behind me. I flashed my lights at them, and then they slammed on their brakes really hard, and I swerved into the shoulder to avoid a collision with the driver and so the person behind me wouldnt rear end me. I went back into the left lane in front of the other car to avoid the debris on the shoulder, when the person who slammed on their brakes floored it to try and prevent me passing and hit the side of my vehicle near my back bumper. I’m wondering if I will get a ticket or be blamed since I went on the shoulder. The driver seemed to have road rage.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jonathan Greenlee
Jonathan Greenlee
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Boulder, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: If you only drove on the shoulder to avoid an accident, you should not receive a ticket. It is fairly common to see cars swerve into an open shoulder to avoid being rear-ended on I-25 in traffic that is sadly heavily populated by drivers like the one you described. If the other driver accelerated to rear-end you once you moved back into the left lane, it would certainly seem like he was at fault.

That being said, the outcome here will depend on what other drivers/witnesses say and who the police believe. Mistakes do happen and eyewitnesses get things wrong. If someone else describes the same situation differently, it is possible you do end up with a ticket or found at fault for the accident. If what you say here is the version the police decide is true, it sounds like you did nothing wrong.

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