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Colorado New Resident Guide

Welcome to Colorado! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Colorado. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • After becoming a Colorado resident, you have 30 days to qualify for a Colorado driver license and 90 days to register your vehicle.
  • Colorado Requirements for Residency
    • Own or operate a business in Colorado.
    • Are gainfully employed in Colorado.
    • Reside in Colorado for 90 consecutive days.


Graduated Licensing Program



Driver Education Permit

Requirements

  • For drivers age 15 years to 15 years and 6 months;
  • Pass written and vision screening;
  • Completed Affidavit of Liability Guardianship form;
  • Provide course completion statement from an approved Driver Education course indicating you have completed and passed a 30 hour classroom or internet study course.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Allows you complete 50 required practice hours with your guardian or person assuming liability, and/or your Driver Education Instructor.
  • The person who signed the DR 2460 may also allow any person 21 years of age or older who holds a valid license to supervise you while you are driving, but that drive time does not count toward the 50 required hours.

Driver Awareness Permit

Requirements

  • For drivers age 15 1/2 to 16 years;
  • Provide proof that you have completed an approved Driver Education Program OR 4-hour prequalification driver awareness program OR completed a 30 hour classroom/internet study course;
  • Completed Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship form.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Same as for Driver Education Permit.

Minor Instruction Permit

Requirements

  • For drivers age 16 years to 21 years;
  • Completed Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship form;
  • Does not require completion of drivers education course.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Same as for Driver Education Permit;
  • Valid for 3 years.

Driver License

Requirements

  • Drivers under 18 must have held their Minor Instruction Permit for a minimum of 12 months before applying for a driver's license;
  • Drivers under 18 must present a completed Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship form;
  • Have held your permit for at least 12 months;
  • Be at least 16 years old;
  • Complete and sign a 50 hour drive time log;
  • If younger than 16 1/2, get a 6-hour behind the wheel certificate;
  • Pass a driven test;
  • Know your Social Security Number;
  • Show your Proof of Address.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



12 Point Violations

  • Leaving scene of accident.
  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
  • Speed contests.
  • Eluding or attempting to elude a police officer.
  • Speeding 40 or more MPH over posted limit.

8 Point Violations

  • Driving while ability is impaired by alcohol.
  • Reckless driving.

6 Point Violations

  • Speeding 20 to 39 MPH over posted limit.
  • Failure to stop for a school bus.

4 Point Violations

  • Careless driving.
  • Speeding 10 to 19 MPH over posted limit.
  • Driving on wrong side of road.
  • Failure to maintain or show proof of insurance.
  • Improper passing.
  • Failure to observe traffic sign or signal.
  • Failure to yield to emergency vehicle.

3 Point Violations

  • Failure to yield right-of-way.
  • Improper turn.
  • Driving through safety zone.
  • Driving in wrong lane or direction on one-way street.

2 Point Violations

  • Failure to signal or improper signal.
  • Improper backing.
  • Failure to dim or turn on lights.
  • Operating an unsafe vehicle.

1 Point Violations

  • Speeding 5 to 9 MPH over posted limit.

Time Violations Remain on Record

Driving records reflect all activity posted for the last seven years.

Point Accumulations that Result in Suspension

Adult Driver (21 and older):

  • 12 points in any 12 consecutive months.
  • 18 points in any 24 consecutive months.

Minor Driver (18 thru 20 years of age):

  • 9 points in any 12 consecutive months.
  • 12 points in any 24 consecutive months.
  • 14 or more points between the ages of 18-21.

Under the Age of 18:

  • 6 points in 12 consecutive months.
  • 7 points prior to turning 18.


Insurance Requirements



  • Motorists required to carry evidence of insurance at all times.
  • Minimum amount of coverage required:
    • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
    • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
    • $15,000 per accident for property.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • From sunset to sunrise.
  • When visibility is less than 1,000 feet.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



  • First Refusal - Revocation 1 year.
  • Second Refusal - Revocation 2 years.
  • Third or Subsequent Refusal - Revocation 3 years.


DUI Penalties



Driving under the influence/illegal per se

First Offense (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,000 fine;
  • 48 - 96 hours community service;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year;

Subsequent offense of DUI, DUI per se, or habitual user

  • 10 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,500 fine;
  • 48 - 120 hours community service;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year.

Subsequent Offense

  • 50 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,500 fine;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year.

Driving While Ability Impaired (misdemeanor)

First Offense

  • 2 days - 180 days imprisonment, or 10 days - 1 year if BAC is .20 or higher;
  • $200 - $500 fine;
  • 24 - 48 hours community service;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year.

Second Offense

  • 10 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,500 fine;
  • 24 - 48 hours community service;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year.

Subsequent Offense

  • 60 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,500 fine;
  • 24 - 48 hours community service;
  • License suspension/revocation at least 1 year.

Child Endangerment

  • Knowingly or recklessly committing an act that either kills or injures a child (less than 16) is child abuse.
  • If death results, it is a Class 2 felony, which carries a term of 8-24 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000 - $1,000,000.
  • If injury results, it is a Class 3 felony, which carries a term of 4-12 years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 - $750,000.
  • Mandatory parole is 5 years for both felonies.

Ignition interlock

  • For an impaired, under the influence, illegal per se, or habitual offender offense, where there has been a previous alcohol driving offense conviction of any type within a 5-year period, an offender must install ignition interlock devices on the vehicles that person drives and is required to hold a restricted license for at least 1 year prior to full license reinstatement.
  • Ignition interlock may be mandatory or available as an option, at court's discretion.


Open Container Law



Colorado's open container law makes it unlawful for a person to "knowingly" possess an open alcoholic beverage container while in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway or right-of-way of a public highway.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $110 fine (including surcharge)/4 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $75; no points or record.


Construction Zone Penalties



All traffic violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



On four-lane highways where the posted speed limit is more than 40 MPH, you must signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 200 feet in advance.

In other situations, such as urban or metropolitan areas, signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted only when the vehicle is stopped or being operated at 25 MPH or less, for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



It is a class 2 misdemeanor to knowingly obstruct a highway or other passageway where a funeral procession is taking place.



School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is traveling toward you on a roadway that is separated by a median or other physical barrier.
  • You must stop your vehicle at least 20 feet before reaching the bus.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of up to $1,000, jail of no more than ninety days, or both.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



A 3-foot minimum passing distance is required.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • Any operator of a motorized bicycle shall possess a valid Driver's license.

Protective Gear

  • Riders under 18 and passengers under 18 must wear safety helmets.
  • Any driver or passenger on a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle on any public highway shall wear goggles or eyeglasses with lenses made of safety glass or plastic.

Headlights

  • Not required in daytime.

Sharing the Road

  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.
  • Lane splitting is not authorized.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 65 mph on the interstate system;
  • 55 mph on an open highway not on the interstate system;
  • 30 mph in a residence district;
  • 40 mph on open mountain highways;
  • 25 mph in a business district;
  • 20 mph on narrow, winding mountain highways or blind curves.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants age 16 or older in the front seat must wear safety belts.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $71.

Child Seats

  • Children younger than 1 year and less than 20 pounds must be in a rear facing infant seat, and must be in the rear seat if available.
  • Children 1 - 3 years and 20 - 40 pounds must be in a child safety seat.
  • Children 4 - 7 years must be in a booster seat.
  • Children 8 - 15 years must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $81.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:

  • Emergency vehicle;
  • Towing carrier vehicle;
  • Maintenance, repair, or construction vehicle;
  • Any vehicle where the tires are being equipped with chains.

You must do the following:

  • On a highway with at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction on the same side of the highway where the vehicle is located, proceed with due care and caution and yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least one moving lane apart from the vehicle;
  • On a highway that does not have at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction on the same side of the highway where the vehicle is located, or if changing lanes is not possible reduce and maintain a safe speed for weather conditions, road conditions, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic and proceed with due care and caution.

Following

Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

Stop

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.

Move Vehicle

  • You must move your vehicle off the roadway unless the vehicle is disabled or someone is injured.

Provide Information

Provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or to any police officer at the scene of the crash:

  • Driver's name and address;
  • Vehicle registration number;
  • Show driver's license upon request.

Render assistance:

  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.

Notify authorities immediately:

  • If the crash resulted in injury or death, you must report the accident immediately to the local police department, county sheriff, or state patrol. If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.

Report crash

  • If none of the other people involved in the accident are in a condition to receive the information you are required to give them, and no police officer is present, you must report the crash to the nearest police department as soon as you have provided assistance to any injured person.

Unattended vehicle or property:

  • Locate operator or owner. If unable, leave written notice providing name and address of driver and owner, registration number of vehicle, and the circumstances of the accident.


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