Your Guide to Colorado Teen Driving Laws

October 11th, 2019 by


A teenage girl is driving alone for the first time because she has a solid understanding of teen driving laws in Colorado.

Here at The Faricy Boys, one of our favorite things to see is a young driver getting his or her first taste of the freedom and responsibility that comes with a vehicle. Whether it is from a Jeep that is all their own or borrowing the family vehicle, there is something truly special about that step into adulthood. Teen drivers need to be careful, however, to ensure they build good habits and learn to be safe drivers. In order to facilitate this, there are a number of driving laws specifically for teens, but understanding teen driving laws in Colorado can be tricky.

There are a lot of specific ages and rules that you need to keep in mind when you have a teen driver. It’s also important to remember that cities and counties can have teen driving laws that are in effect in addition to state laws. These are the important state laws for teen drivers here in Colorado but check with your local county and city statutes to be sure you know them all. Also, remember that this is not legal advice, just a helpful guide – if you have any questions about state or local laws, please contact a licensed attorney for proper advice and counsel.

Age Requirements for Permits and License

Understanding teen driving laws in Colorado can seem overwhelming, but they are not too difficult once you look at them one piece at a time. To begin, anyone that wants to get a Minor Permit must be at least 15 years old. A teen that is between 15 years old and 15 years, 6 months old has to have completed a 30-hour driver education course before getting a permit. Teens between 15 years, 6 months old and 16 years old can complete either a 30-hour driver education course or a 4-hour driver awareness class. Teens older than 16 years old do not have to complete any course and can simply take the written test to apply for a permit.

Teens need to be 16 years old or older to apply for a full driver’s license. However, anyone between 16 years old and 16 years, 6 months old must have had a permit for at least 12 months. They must also complete a drive-time log with 50 hours of driving time, at least 10 of which must be at night, and complete behind-the-wheel training with a driving instructor. Teens between 16 years, 6 months and 17 years old need only have had a permit for 12 months and complete 50 hours of driving with at least 10 hours at night. Anyone 18 years old or older can take the driving test as long as they have a permit without any record of driving time or official classes.

Passenger Restrictions

Next up for understanding teen driving laws in Colorado, you need to know about restrictions on passengers with a teen driver. These all apply to any driver that is under the age of 18 years old.

During the first 6 months of having a license, a teen driver cannot have any passengers with them under the age of 21, unless a parent or other licensed adult is in the vehicle too. For the next 6 months after that, a teen driver can have one passenger under the age of 21 with them. Only one person is allowed to be in the front passenger seat with a teen driver at any time.

There are some exceptions to this restriction, however, so keep these in mind when looking into Colorado’s teen driver laws. If the minor’s parent or legal guardian is in the vehicle, then these passenger restrictions are lifted, or if an adult that has had a driver’s license for at least one year is in the vehicle. Passenger restrictions do not apply to immediate family members, such as siblings, as long as they are wearing seatbelts. Passengers in the vehicle due to a medical emergency are also allowed under these restrictions.

Seatbelt Requirements

By Colorado law, all teen drivers and all passengers with them must wear seatbelts while the vehicle is in operation. Seatbelts cannot be shared, so one for each passenger must be provided. Even when an adult or parent is in the vehicle, this seatbelt requirement is still in effect – no exceptions.

Cell Phones and Texting

A traffic sign that says, "Stay Alert. Talk or Text Later".

If you’re trying to understand teen driving laws in Colorado, then you’re probably concerned about your teen driver and his or her cell phone. By Colorado law, drivers under the age of 18 are forbidden from using a cell phone in any way – that includes texting, of course, as well as talking on the phone. Any teen driver caught using a phone while driving can face a fine or even lose his or her license.The one exception to this law, however, is when an emergency requires that a teen use a phone to contact emergency services such as police or the fire department. This is the ONLY exception to this law – you, as a parent, are not allowed to give the teen permission to use his or her phone. They can only use the phone while driving if they need to contact emergency services.

Curfew for Teen Drivers

One of the things that might surprise you is that there is a state law enforcing a curfew for teen drivers. This curfew applies to any driver under the age of 18 for the entirety of their first year as a driver. After one year has passed, then the curfew no longer applies to them.

Any teen driver for their first year is forbidden from driving between the hours of midnight and 5 am in Colorado, unless they are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or instructor. If they are with someone over the age of 21 that has had a driver’s license for at least one year, then they are also exempt from the curfew. Otherwise, exceptions are made for teen drivers going to school or school-related activities, going to a place of employment, or if there is a medical emergency.

Zero Tolerance for DUI

One of the most important laws for teen drivers that you need to understand is the zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For drivers over the age of 21, the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is 0.08% – anything over that is considered Driving Under the Influence (DUI). For anyone under the age of 21, including teen drivers, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.02% or higher. That is an incredibly low amount of alcohol – even a single beer can push them over the legal limit.

This law is enforced very seriously, and the first offense can result in a fine, license suspension of up to 3 months, community service, and points on their license. A second offense can result in up to 90 days of jail time and is charged as a misdemeanor. It is very important that anyone under 21 years of age does not get behind the wheel even if they have had a tiny amount to drink. Not only is this in keeping with the law, but it is safer for everyone.

Safe Habits for Teen Drivers

It is crucial that you and your teen understand these teen driving laws in Colorado – they are not just arbitrary statutes, but are designed to teach safe behavior. One of the biggest dangers on the road is a distracted driver – restrictions on phone use and passengers in a vehicle are reminders that these things present major distractions that can have deadly consequences. No one, at any age, should operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol; the earlier a person learns that, the better.

Finally, there is a single, simple way that every driver can be safer on the road: slow down. Law enforcement, insurance companies, and traffic safety experts all agree the easiest way to avoid a collision is to slow down and obey speed limit laws. This applies to every driver, though teen drivers in particular need to understand they are controlling thousands of pounds of machinery, and high speeds push them beyond their reaction time to avoid a collision.

Nothing in life is so important that it is worth endangering the lives of ourselves and the people we share the road with. All of us at The Faricy Boys want to see everyone enjoy the road and get home safely.

Posted in Teen Driving Laws