Colorado’s Teen Driver’s License and Insurance Requirements

Learn about the requirements for teens to obtain a driver’s license in Colorado and what insurance is required.

Colorado has several paths for young drivers to obtain a license. Which path is appropriate depends on the driver’s age, experience, and purpose for driving.

Instruction Permit

15-year-olds. Beginning at 15 years old, a person can take a written and vision test to obtain an instruction permit. The youth must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must sign an affidavit of liability. Youth who obtain an instruction permit at 15 years old must hold the permit for 12 months, complete drivers education course, and complete six hours of behind-the-wheel training from a licensed instructor (12 hours if completed with a parent). After completing these requirements and logging 50 hours of driving time—which must include ten hours at night—the youth is eligible for a minor driver’s license.

15-and-a-half-year-olds. Youth who obtain an instruction permit at 15 and a half years old must also complete 12 months with the permit and 50 hours of driving time (including ten hours at night) but are exempt from completing driver’s education. Instead, these youth must complete a four-hour driver awareness program as a prerequisite to obtaining a minor driver’s license.

16-to-18-year-olds. Youth who are 16 to 18 years old are not required to complete driver’s education but must complete 50 hours of driving time (with ten hours being at night) and hold the instruction permit for 12 months.

Minor Driver’s License

All persons under 21 years old will be issued a minor driver’s license upon completion of a vision test, a driving test, and the relevant requirements explained above. Holders of a minor driver’s license are also subject to some restrictions.

Under 21 years old. For the first six months of holding a minor driver’s license, the driver may not have any passenger under 21 years old. For the first year of holding a minor’s driver’s license—but after the first six months—the driver may have only one passenger under 21 years old. Exceptions exist for family members and emergencies or if a licensed parent or person over 21 years old is present.

A violation of these restrictions is an infraction and can lead to eight to 24 hours of community service and up to a $50 fine for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses can result in 16 to 40 hours of community service and up to $100 fine ($150 for a third offense).

Under 18 years old. The minor driver’s license requires an affidavit of liability from a parent or guardian and comes with certain limitations for those who are under 18 years old. Drivers who are under the age of 18 are also subject to the following restrictions (in addition to those for minor drivers):

  • only permitted one passenger in the front seat
  • all passengers must wear seat belts
  • no cellphone usage while driving, and
  • no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless for work or school purposes.

A violation of any of these rules is an infraction, punishable by a fine, community service, and possible license suspension.

Insurance

Before any driver can operate a vehicle in Colorado, the vehicle must be properly insured. In Colorado, the mandatory insurance requirements are:

  • Liability coverage. Must include at least $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 property damage per accident.

Failure to provide proof of valid insurance is a class 1 misdemeanor and can result in ten days to one year in jail. A first offense also carries a minimum $500 fine. The minimum fine for a second offense within five years is $1,000. However, the judge can reduce the fines by as much as one half if the driver shows valid insurance has been obtained since the violation.

Additionally, the judge can order the convicted motorist to perform 40 hours or more of community service.

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