Having a broken windshield can be annoying. The salt spread on Colorado roads for traction during the winter months may result in gravel getting thrown by a tire into your windshield. You may hear a cracking sound and then see a star-shaped chip in your windshield. Windshield damage can also happen due to hail storms. With our busy lives, taking the time to have our windshield repaired can be something we put off over and over again. 

Even though broken windshields are not illegal per se in Colorado, they do have the potential to cause dangerous accidents. If the broken windshield obstructs your view as a driver, you could get a traffic ticket. Even a tiny crack or chip in a windshield can suddenly expand and obscure your view, making it more likely that you will be involved in a car accident.

Is Driving With a Cracked Windshield Against the Law?

Colorado doesn’t have any specific laws about the need to repair or replace a cracked windshield. However, it does require a windshield view that is unobstructed and normal. Specifically, Colorado law (C.R.S. 42-4-201) states, “No vehicle shall be operated upon any highway unless the driver’s vision through any required glass equipment is normal and unobstructed.” 

C.R.S. 42-4-229 requires that most cars be equipped with a windshield made from safety glazing material. These types of windshields are meant to keep a cracked windshield from shattering quickly. There are exemptions to this rule for antique or classic cars. If these vehicles were originally built without windshields, they are exempt from the law. 

According to C.R.S. 42-4-227, the windshield on every motor vehicle needs to be equipped with a device for clearing snow, rain, and other moisture from the windshield. Most cars come with windshield wipers that can be operated by the vehicle driver, meeting the requirements of this law.

Damaged glass can easily break in a minor collision or when something hits the windshield. Any driver’s handbook will say that the driver should have the windshield replaced if chipped or broken and that drivers should ensure their windshield wipers are working correctly. However, the driver’s handbook is not a regulation and does not give prosecutors a way to charge anyone for violating the recommendations.

Federal Laws Related to Cracked Windshields

There are federal laws that regulate cracked windshields. Federal law administered through the Federal Highway Administration requires a driver’s windshield free of obstruction above the steering wheel. There is an exception for the two-inch border at the top of the windshield. Under federal law, the windshield should be repaired if the damage exceeds the following:

  •  A crack that is a quarter-inch wide, or a crack that is intersected by another crack
  •  An area of damage that can be covered by a disc ¾ inch in diameter (about the size of a penny), or if it is within 3 in of any other such damaged area

How Much Time Do I Have to Get My Windshield Fixed?

There is no specific time frame for a driver to have a broken windshield replaced in Colorado. Suppose you received a ticket for a damaged windshield. In that case, it is probably because the police officer who pulled you over decided that the windshield damage obstructed your view, in violation of federal law.

Will Insurance Pay for Windshield Repairs?

The answer to this question is it depends on your insurance policy. Some car insurance policies will cover the cost of replacing your windshield. Typically, these types of repairs are covered under the comprehensive section of your car insurance policy. If your windshield was broken in a collision, you would probably have to file a claim for the car accident and pay the deductible before they repair the windshield in any other damage. In most cases, a new windshield costs a few hundred dollars.

Keep in mind that if your windshield was damaged in a car accident, the at-fault driver might be responsible for paying for the repairs. The other driver’s property damage liability coverage or your own coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists may cover the repairs. As with any other car accident, you will need to determine who was at fault for the accident. With the cost of insurance deductibles, it may be more affordable for you to pay for the damage out of pocket rather than file a claim with your car insurance company.

Is it Worth Having Your Insurance Pay for Your Windshield Repair?

Many policies have deductions that are at least $500 to $1,000. If your windshield only costs less than $500 to repair, paying for the repair out-of-pocket may be worth it. However, if you had additional damage due to a car accident, and that damage will exceed the deductible, it is worth claiming with your insurance company. Suppose someone else damages your windshield due to their negligence or recklessness, such as a truck driver causing the damage due to driving without mud flaps on his rear tires or a vandal who is caught and identified. In that case, you should try to hold that person accountable.

Once you identify the legally responsible party for the repairs, you can contact them and their insurer with your claim. The individual may choose to simply pay you out of pocket for the damage so they can avoid paying their deductible. If the individual or their insurance company refuses to pay for the windshield repairs and offers you too little money, you may need to take them to small claims court.

The ticket may not seem like a big deal, but it could negatively affect your future. If you face a ticket for a broken windshield in Colorado, it is important that you discuss your case with a qualified criminal defense attorney.