Fine for impeding traffic could cost $56

A plan to bar drivers from impeding traffic and causing lines of five or more vehicles behind them passed the state House on Friday despite Republican efforts to curb the legislation.

House lawmakers passed House Bill 1042, sponsored by Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, on a voice vote after a debate that spanned two days on the House floor, Wednesday and Friday.

The two days of debate came after Republican lawmakers, through a parliamentary maneuver, asked legislative staff to re-evaluate the bill’s price tag, citing concerns the bill could force the state to build more highway pull-offs.

Legislative staff said Thursday the bill levies no additional road-construction costs on the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Republican lawmakers, nonetheless, continued to assail the bill Friday.

Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, pressed Merrifield and his colleagues to insert provisions exempting trucks carrying hazardous materials.

“No one is forcing them to (pull over) when it would endanger their life or anyone else on the highway,” Merrifield said.

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, questioned how the bill could affect agricultural traffic and force trucks hauling hay or fertilizer to pull over.

Merrifield and others replied to their colleagues’ contention that state law already outlaws the obstruction of traffic.

He said House Bill 1042 simply helps law enforcement by defining what “obstruction” means on the road.

“That’s what this bill is about: Asking that those impeding traffic consider those impeded behind them,” Merrifield said.

He said the Colorado State Patrol and other law enforcement organizations support the bill.

Drivers ticketed for impeding traffic under the proposed law could be fined $56.

House Bill 1042 could return to the House floor for a final vote as early as Monday.


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