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McBride v. People.

2022 CO 30. No. 20SC717. Tail Lamp Violation—Statutory Construction—Sufficiency of the Evidence.

June 21, 2022

In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether there is liability under CRS § 42-4-206(1) when a vehicle’s tail lamps emit any white light, regardless of whether they emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.

The Court concluded that CRS § 42-4-206(1) is plain and unambiguous and imposes liability when a motor vehicle’s tail lamps do not “emit[] a red light plainly visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear.” Nothing in that section mandates that a vehicle’s tail lamps must emit only red light.

The Court further concluded that because the prosecution did not present substantial and sufficient evidence that would have allowed a reasonable jury to find that the tail lamps of the car that defendant was driving failed to emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear, the evidence was insufficient to support defendant’s conviction for a tail lamp violation.

The Court reversed the judgment of the division below and remanded this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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