colorado driver's license

Getting Your Colorado Driver’s License: A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Mar 27, 2024

This guide will tell you everything you need to know, including:

  • Driver Permits and Minor Licenses
  • How to Qualify For Your License
  • How to Apply

All Types of Permits and Licenses in Colorado

3 Driver Permits

  1. Driver Education Permit (Age 15- 15 ½)
  2. Driver Awareness Permit (Age 15 ½ to 16)
  3. Instructional Permit (Age 16+)

A permit allows limited driving privileges for people learning to drive. If you are interested in a detailed description of each type and instructions on how to get them, read our in-depth guide.

Colorado Minor Driver’s License (Age 16-21)

Your minor license expires 20 days after your 21st birthday. During this time frame, you can upgrade to your unrestricted license.

Compagnon Restrictions

For the first 6 months, no passengers under 21, unless a parent or other licensed adult driver over 21 is in the vehicle. For the next 6 months, one passenger under age 21 can ride with you. The restriction is lifted afterward.

Driving Time Restrictions

For the first year, no driving between midnight and 5am unless you drive with an adult age 21 or older in the seat beside you. You can also get an exemption if you carry a statement from work/ school declaring it is necessary to do so for your commute.

Other Restrictions

  • Drivers under 18 can’t use cell phones, even hands-free ones, except to call emergency services while driving.
  • Even a trace of alcohol in your system while driving is punishable by law.

Colorado Driver’s License (Age 21+)

Once you turn 21, you can apply for your unrestricted Colorado driver’s license.

If You Have a Minor Driver’s License

You will be able to upgrade to an unrestricted license automatically.

If You Don’t Have It

You will need to apply for a permit and take your written knowledge exam before you can schedule your behind-the-wheel exam. You will not be required to fill out a driving log or hold the permit for a specific period of time before you can apply for a full license.

How Do You Qualify For a Driver’s License in Colorado?

documents for driver's license
  1. You must be at least 16
  2. Be a Resident. You are considered a resident if:
    1. Live in the state for 90 continuous days OR
    2. Obtain gainful employment OR
    3. Own or operate a business in the state of Colorado
  3. Have completed tests and criteria for your age
  4. Do not have a license suspended or revoked in another state

How to Apply For a Colorado Driver’s License

a driving instructor and a student in the car
Passing Your Road Exam

Where Do You Apply?

You can apply in person at any Colorado DMV office. These offices handle all aspects of the licensing process, including the written test, road test, and document submission.

When you prepare to apply for your driver’s license, make sure to allow for plenty of time to wait in line for processing and for each test. On average, you might spend anywhere from 30 min to a couple of hours at the DMV for the entire licensing process.

Documents You Need

  • Proof of Identity: This could be a birth certificate or passport.
  • Proof of Social Security Number: Typically, a Social Security card or W-2 form.
  • Proof of Residency: Two bills or other documents that prove residency. The name on the documents must match the name you will have on your license.
  • Learner’s Permit: As evidence of having completed the necessary prerequisite period.
  • Consent Form: If under 18.

Application Process

  1. Fill out your application and submit your documents and proof of the written and driving tests.
  2. Take physical and vision exams.
  3. Pay the Required Fees.
  4. Have your fingerprint and picture taken.
  5. You will receive a temporary paper license good for 30 days, and your actual license will come in the mail roughly 15 days later.

The Physical Exam

The Physical Exam is required if you have certain medical conditions that make driving hazardous, such as a history of epilepsy. In general, you will provide a confidential medical exam report to pass this part of the application process.

The Vision Exam

The Vision Exam requires you to have at least 20/40 vision. If you need corrective lenses to meet the minimum requirement, your license will be marked to indicate you are required to wear them while driving.

Getting your license does not have to be a hassle. Our Colorado DMV manual and practice tests are designed to help you ace your written and driving exam. Our educational experts craft the program to maximize learning and memory retention. That’s why our users sport amazing success rates on their exams.

How to Prepare for Your Tests 100%

Written Test

Practice the Written Test online with Zutobi.

The Written Test consists of 25 multiple choice questions, and you must get 20 of them right to pass. It covers various aspects of driving in your Colorado Driver’s Handbook.

Basic Topics You Must Know

  1. Traffic laws, including the right-of-way rules and laws pertaining to pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles.
  2. Road signs, regulatory signs, warning signs, and informational signs.
  3. Meaning of different traffic lights and lane markings.
  4. Proper lane usage, lane changing rules, and merging into traffic
  5. Strategies for safe driving and driving in adverse conditions (like rain, snow, or fog).
  6. How to safely share the road with larger vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Driving Exam

Prepare with our behind-the-wheel videos made by the driving instructor.

The Driving Exam for a minor or unrestricted license takes about 15-20 minutes, and it consists of three main parts: making sure the vehicle is safe for the road, demonstrating your knowledge of where essential parts of the vehicle are and their use, and driving on the road to show mastery of driving laws and safe driving practices.

Take our full course with tests and theory

550+ exam-like questions

All you need to ace your test

Perfect for first-timers, renewals and senior citizens

Ace your DMV test, guaranteed