Colorado Driver's License

Getting Your Colorado Driver’s License: A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 06, 2022

Getting your Colorado Driver’s License might seem like a hassle that can wait. 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

Types of Permits and Licenses

The many stages on the road to obtaining a driver’s license can feel complicated. Let’s break it down!

Driver Permits

A permit allows limited driving privileges for people learning to drive. The training that is required to progress to a license will be based on your age as follows:

  • Driver Education Permit (Age 15- 15 ½)
  • Driver Awareness Permit (Age 15 ½ to 16)
  • Instructional Permit (Age 16+)

If you are interested in getting a Colorado Driver’s Permit, read our in-depth guide to learn more.

The permit allows for limited driving privileges under the supervision of a licensed driver 21 years old or older.

If the person doesn’t have a license, they can appoint an alternative person to supervise in their place. They can also appoint alternative supervisors for regular driving, but these hours won’t count on your practice driving log.

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

A minor license allows you to drive with certain restrictions:

  • For the first six months, no passengers under 21, unless a parent or other licensed adult driver over 21 is in the vehicle. For the next six months, one passenger under age 21 can ride with you. The restriction is lifted afterward.
  • 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.
    • Some cities and counties have additional curfew laws. Check with your local government to ensure you are following them all.
  • Drivers under 18 may not use cell phones , even hands free ones, except to call emergency services while driving.
  • Zero Tolerance: Even a trace of alcohol in your system while driving is punishable by law.

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

Unrestricted 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. Otherwise, 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 a driving log or hold the permit for a specific period of time before you can apply.

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

Every person operating a motor vehicle on public roads is expected to have a valid driving license. Driving without a valid license can result in heavy penalties, including possible jail time!

To qualify for a driver’s license, you must:

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

How to Apply For a Colorado Driver’s License

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. Appointments are available at most Colorado DMV offices.

  1. You will be asked to submit documents that prove your name, date of birth, full legal name, and lawful presence in the US. You can find a full list of recommended documents here.
    1. US Passport
    2. Certified birth certificate
    3. A previous Driver’s License or ID card
    4. Social Security Card
    5. Two bills or other documents that prove residency. The name on documents must match the name you will have on your license.
  2. Fill out your application and take all required exams. (Physical, Vision, Written, and Driving Exam)
  3. Pay the Required Fees
  4. Have your fingerprint 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 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 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.

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. Pass it on the first try with Zutobi’s amazing handbook and learning program.

The Driving Exam for a minor or unrestricted license takes about 15-20 minutes, and it consists of three 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.

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