The Colorado State Patrol is warning truckers who try to use Independence Pass this summer that they may land in court as the state cracks down on the common summer practice of tractor-trailers traveling the pass illegally.
Trucks longer than 35 ft. have long been prohibited from traveling on Independence Pass because the route is infamous for stretches that are narrow and treacherous, according to an Aspen Daily News report. In some spots, there’s literally no room for a semi and cars traveling the opposite direction, forcing smaller vehicles to back up — which in turn jams up traffic or worse, causes accidents.
Most truck drivers caught using the pass previously faced only a ticket. Now, however, troopers can also force the driver to return to Aspen to appear in court, said Colorado State Patrol Capt. Richard Duran.
While a ticket comes with a $113.50 fine, court costs bump up the total expense to around $200, and four points against the driver’s commercial license.
However, drivers have told authorities that the time and miles saved by using the pass make the risk worth it, according to Duran. He said it’s hoped that forcing offending truckers to return to Aspen for a court hearing could change that perception. And a careless driving ticket “may have more ramifications” for a driver’s commercial license, he added.
Police are hoping the word spreads among drivers about the mandatory court appearances. “We hope it becomes a deterrent,” Duran said.
County emergency dispatchers have already taken 14 calls about semi-trucks going over the pass since it opened on May 26, said Bruce Romero, emergency communications director.