Are you clear on the law in Colorado about hanging items on your rearview mirror?
I recently heard that it is illegal in Colorado to hang anything from your rearview mirror, including air fresheners but is that really true?
What Are Pretext Traffic Stops?
First of all, let's learn about pretext traffic stops. A pretext traffic stop occurs when an officer pulls you over for a very simple traffic violation as a reason to investigate for evidence of other crimes.
These simple traffic violations vary from state to state, but some of the most common pretext traffic stops can stem from:
- a broken taillight
- altered exhaust
- questionable window tint
- and yes, items hanging from your rearview mirror
Colorado Law on Obstruction of View
In Colorado, C.R.S. 42-4-201 section 4 states:
No vehicle shall be operated upon any highway unless the driver’s vision through any required glass equipment is normal and unobstructed.
Reading further, there's an annotation that states:
An air freshener hanging from rearview mirror not an automatic violation of subsection (4).
The air freshener must actually obstruct the driver’s vision to be a violation. People v. Arias, 159 P.3d 134 (Colo. 2007).
An air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror is not an automatic violation, but it definitely could be enough for a pretextual traffic stop.
Best Practices for Colorado Traffic Safety
They say less is more, and that's probably the best advice to take when thinking about hanging anything from your rearview mirror.
Bulky items like dice or baby shoes could definitely be interpreted by law enforcement as an obstruction and could lead to a pretextual traffic stop.
If that stop holds up in court is, however, a whole different ball game.