Over the last year, The Colorado Springs Police Department has worked closely with the City of Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office to investigate and remove vehicles that are repeatedly documented committing major traffic violations from our streets through a new strategy utilizing the Vehicle Public Nuisance Ordinance (VPNO). The Colorado Springs City Council revised the ordinance in January of 2023 to provide additional procedural safeguards and it became effective in February of this year.
This new strategy by CSPD and the City Attorney’s Office combines a civil process against the vehicle and criminal charges against its driver. It ultimately seeks to remove vehicles operated in dangerous, illegal ways from our streets while holding the driver responsible in criminal court when possible.
CSPD was recently successful in utilizing the VPNO to remove three of these cars from our streets. CSPD became aware of certain groups of individuals who not only engage in repeated unlawful, dangerous driving behavior but also record that behavior and post it online in hopes of gaining a following. Through detailed investigation including monitoring social media, warrants, and other investigative tools, CSPD determined three main offending vehicles. CSPD then worked with the City Attorney’s Office to use the VPNO to remove these public nuisance cars from the streets of Colorado Springs. These vehicles are just the first examples of this ordinance's success.
The drivers of these three cars were also issued criminal citations for their driving behavior. The criminal cases are still pending. If convicted of these offenses, these defendants could face jail time, fines, and/or suspension or revocation of their licenses.
Under the Vehicular Public Nuisance Ordinance, CSPD and the City Attorney’s Office pursue civil cases in municipal court that can result in a vehicle being impounded and closed from all access for up to one year, which ensures the vehicle cannot be used in the same type of illegal or dangerous driving behavior. The difference between a civil VPNO case and a criminal case is the main defendant. A civil VPNO case only requires identifying the vehicle involved in illegal, reckless driving behavior and asking the court to declare the vehicle a public nuisance. By contrast, a criminal case requires identifying the specific driver at the time of the illegal behavior, which can be difficult for officers when the driver runs from police.
Many of the drivers of these vehicles continually break traffic laws in serious ways and endanger innocent lives through illegal and reckless driving behaviors. These drivers also more frequently choose to elude our officers, believing that if they are not pulled over, they will not face consequences because the officer might not be able to identify them. High-speed pursuits put innocent members of our community at risk. The Vehicle Public Nuisance Ordinance provides a safer way for officers to get these vehicles off the street.
The ordinance has safeguards for vehicle owners not involved in dangerous driving behaviors, such as parents who do not know their child is driving the vehicle recklessly, and for financial institutions who may hold the loan on the vehicle. The safeguard allows for the vehicle to be returned by the city under an agreement approved by a judge. The individual loan holders agree to re-take possession of the property because it was being used illegally and endangering the public. They also agree that the vehicle will not be returned to the party it was seized from to prevent the nuisance driving behavior from being repeated.
CSPD and the City of Colorado Springs prioritize the safety of our community in all aspects, especially while on the road. This new ordinance allows for safely removing these vehicles from our streets, creating a more secure community.
Those who choose to involve themselves and their vehicles in public nuisance behaviors such as eluding, attempting to elude, street racing, drive-by shootings, gang-related activity, and prostitution need to know that CSPD can now take long-term action and remove their vehicles from our roads in Colorado Springs and criminally pursue charges against them to the fullest extent of the law.
Colorado Springs Deputy Chief David Edmondson and Shantel Withrow, the Division Chief for Prosecution with the Colorado Springs City Attorney's Office, will be available to speak with media on Tuesday, November 7th at 10 a.m. at the Police Operations Center.