Colorado prohibits driving without a license or driving while under license restraints. This article explains how these violations are defined, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the rule.
Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on a Colorado highway must possess and be able to display a valid driver's license.
License not in possession. A driver who possesses a license, but does not have it in their immediate possession will be subject to a traffic infraction fine of $15.
Refusal to produce license. A driver who possesses a license but refuses an officer's request to see it can be convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor. The conviction can result in ten to 90 days in jail and a $150 to $300 fine.
Driving without a valid license. Unlicensed driving can result in a class 2 misdemeanor conviction. A class 2 misdemeanor conviction usually results in a $35 fine. Subsequent offenses can result in temporary preclusion from obtaining a license.
Exceptions. Non-resident drivers with valid driver's licenses from their home state or country can drive in the state without a Colorado license, subject to Colorado age restrictions. Colorado also allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a valid driver's license. Farmers, military personnel, and emergency responders can also be exempt from licensing requirements under certain circumstances.
A person who operates a vehicle while on a restrained license (suspended, restricted, or revoked) will be subject to jail time, fines, and an extended driver's license suspension.
Non-DUI. "Driving while restrained" is a class 2 misdemeanor if the license restraint was not DUI related. The convicted person can expect up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
DUI-related. Driving while restrained carries increased penalties if the restraint was related to a DUI incident. Convicted persons will be sentenced to 30 days to one year in jail and a possible fine of $500 to $1,000. A second conviction requires 90 days to two years in jail, a possible fine of $500 to $3,000, and the motorist will not be eligible for a driver's license for four years.
The required jail sentence can only be suspended (set aside) if the accused can show they drove only due to an emergency.