Colorado Graduated License Program - CO Graduated Drivers License Requirements
The state of Colorado has a number of driving laws that apply only to teenage drivers. The laws are commonly known as the Colorado graduated drivers license requirements and they dictate how teenage drivers apply for a drivers license and also specify a number of additional license restrictions that were designed to keep young drivers safe. The graduated drivers license requirements are somewhat complicated due to the fact that the state offers a number of different learners permit, each one specific to a certain age group, each permit with its own requirements and restrictions. We hope that after reading this, you shall understand how the Colorado graduated drivers license requirements affect you.
So many young drivers complain that the graduated drivers license laws are unfair and that the same laws should apply to drivers of all ages. There is some reason behind this as no matter the age, those who just got a Colorado drivers license have about the same amount of driving experience. So if older drivers are just as inexperienced as teens, why do we treat them differently and don't have them jump through the same hoops of the system?
The reason why youngsters are treated differently is because statistics show us that teen drivers are much more likely to be involved in a traffic accident then drivers of any other age group. This happens for a number of reasons and lack of driving experience is just one of them. Unlike older drivers, teenagers frequently fail to predict the consequences of their actions on the road and to treat driving as a dangerous activity. Traffic accidents is a number one cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age, something young drivers should consider real hard.
The Colorado graduated drivers license system aims at reducing the number of traffic accidents that involve teenage drivers and it utilizes a complex approach for achieving this goal. First of all, the system divides the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps instead of granting the driver with full driving privileges right away. The applicant first has to apply for a Colorado learners permit, then go through an extensive permit holding period, possibly complete a drivers safety program and 50 hours of supervised driving with a more experienced driver. Once these requirements are met, the driver is granted additional driving privileges, but is still not permitted to drive alone at night, since most of the accident that involve teen drivers happen at nighttime. Only once the applicant goes through all these steps, he or she receives full driving privileges.
The exact requirements depend on the age of the learners permit applicant. The younger the applicant is, the more additional steps are required before a full drivers license is achieved. The official Colorado drivers manual contains detailed information about each one of these permits, but we will try to provide you with some basic info so you'll know what permit is right for you.
Please remember: the Colorado graduate driver's license law applies only to drivers license applicants who are under 21 years of age. If you are over 21 years of age, you don't have to follow these steps and you can apply for a license through a simplified procedure.
Colorado Drivers Education Permit
The drivers education permit is available only to the drivers license applicants who are 15 to 15 years, 6 months old. Before you can apply for the drivers education permit, you will need to complete a state-approved Colorado drivers education class and get an Affidavit of Completion. Drivers ed classes can be completed online or through one of the local commercial driving schools, just make sure that the school is accredited by the Colorado DMV so you don't waste your time and money.
Once you have completed the class and got the affidavit of completion, you can visit your nearest DMV office, present the required paperwork and take a Colorado permit test. More than 50 percent of all first time applicants fail the knowledge exam the first time they take it, so even though taking a drivers ed class should have taught you everything you need to know to be able to pass the exam, you may still want to take a Colorado practice permit test to see if you're truly prepared.
Once you get your drivers ed permit, the Colorado graduate license law also requires you to complete at least six hours of driving lessons with a professional driving instructor and 50 hours of supervised driving with an adult licensed driver. You must hold your drivers education permit for at least 12 months before you can apply for a minor's license. During this period, you are to observe all learners permit restrictions that are outlined below.
Colorado Driver Awareness Permit
The driver awareness permit is issued to applicants who are 15 years, 6 months to 16 years of age. Before you can apply for a driver awareness permit, the GDL law requires you to complete a short driver awareness program. The class is not as extensive as drivers ed classes required for a drivers education permit and the information provided in the class won't be enough for passing a learners permit test, so you may want to think of obtaining additional study materials, such as the drivers license handbook and online practice permit tests. The testing requirements for a drivers awareness permit are the same as for the drivers education permit, you still have to take a knowledge exam and a vision test and provide a certificate of completion of a state-approved driver awareness program before you can be issued with a driver awareness permit.
Just like with any other minor's permit, the driver awareness permit must be held for at least 12 months before you can apply for a drivers license. During this period, you must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving with a licensed adult and observe all learners permit restrictions. Once the 12 months are up, you will be able to take a Colorado driver test and obtain your minor's drivers license.
Minor Instruction Permit
The Colorado minor instruction permit can be issued to applicants 16 to 21 years of age. The graduated drivers license law does not require applicants to complete any classes or special programs before this learners permit can be issued, but they are still strongly advised to do so, if only to prepare for the learners permit test. The testing requirements are the same for all types of learners permits and there is no way around taking a vision test and a knowledge exam. Just like other permits that are issued to applicants who are under 21 years of age, the minor instruction permit must be held for at least 12 months and during this time the applicant must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving. At the end of this period, the applicant can take a driver skills test and obtain a Colorado drivers license.
Colorado Learners Permit Restrictions
The graduated driver license laws require that all teenage drivers observe certain permit restrictions. These restrictions were designed to prevent young drivers from getting into the situations that are known to cause traffic accidents, so following these rules will serve you right. The following Colorado learners permit restrictions are to be observed until you pass a drivers test and get a drivers license:
- No driving alone. You must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age accompany you at all times.
- The supervising driver must either be the person who signed your Affidavit of Liability or someone appointed by this person if the signer does not currently hold a valid Colorado drivers license.
- No cell phones. Colorado learners permit holders are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving. If you need to make a phone call or send a text message, you will need to stop and turn the engine off.
- Safety belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.
The “supervised driving only” restriction will be lifted once you pass the drivers test and get your minor's license. The cell phone restriction will hold until you you are at least 18 years of age.
Colorado Minor's License Restrictions
When you fulfill all drivers education and learners permit requirements and pass the drivers test, you are granted with the Colorado minor's license. The license can be issued to anyone under the age of 21 and although it allows driving without being supervised by another licensed driver, it still holds the following limitations:
- No cell phones for license holders who are under 18 years of age.
- Passenger restrictions. For the first six months, no passengers under the age of 21 are allowed to be in the vehicle unless they are members of the driver's immediate family. For the second six months, no more than one passenger under the age of 21 are allowed to be in the vehicle. Only one passenger is allowed to be in the front seat of the vehicle.
- Curfew. There is a nighttime driving restriction that does not allow you to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. for the first 12 months following the issuance of the drivers license unless you are accompanied by another licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age.
- Seat belts. Safety belts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle operated by a minor's license holder.
All these restrictions are lifted once you reach the age of 21 and obtain a full Colorado drivers license.
Although the Colorado graduated license system may seem a nuisance now, statistics show that the program saves lives and one day it may save yours. Make sure to observe all graduate drivers license rules and requirements and drive safely!