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Carole Walker, RMIIA

Colorado Teen Driver GDL Laws

Overview of Laws Affecting Drivers Under Age 18

Note: For exact language, please refer to Colorado Statutes.

When can a teen get an instruction permit?

  • The training required before you can apply for a license depends on your age when starting the GDL process. Click here for a guide to the stages of obtaining a license.

  • Minimum age 15, if enrolled, attending and participating in a state-approved driver's education program. In this case, the teen must complete the 6 hours behind-the-wheel training portion of the class prior to applying for a license.

  • Minimum age 15½ after successfully completing a 4-hour driver awareness course, such as Alive at 25.

  • Minimum age 16 if none of the above.

  • All new drivers under age 18 require a parent/legal guardian's signed affidavit of liability to obtain an instruction permit.

What does a teen under 18 with an instruction permit need to do before applying for a driver's license?

  • Hold an instruction permit for at least one year.

  • Log 50 hours of supervised driving time. Ten of those supervised hours must be nighttime driving. They may not drive with anyone except their driving instructor, their parent or legal guardian or an adult alternate permit supervisor approved or appointed by your parent or legal guardian. The supervisor must hold a valid Colorado driver's license.

  • Click here for the Colorado Teen Driving Alliance's new online parent course providing step-by-step instructions on how parents can support their teens through Colorado's Graduated Driver Licensing laws.
  • No cell phones while driving.

What rules apply to licensed drivers under age 18?

  • No passengers under age 21 until the driver holds a valid driver's license for at least six months (siblings and passengers with medical emergencies excepted).

  • No more than one passenger under age 21 until the driver holds a valid driver's license for at least one year (siblings and passengers with medical emergencies excepted).

  • No more than one passenger in the front seat of a vehicle, and the number of passengers in the back seat must not exceed the number of seat belts.

  • Driver and all passengers under 18 must wear seatbelts.

  • No driving between midnight and 5 a.m. until the driver holds a valid driver's license for at least one year, unless accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. Exceptions:

    1. Driving to a school or school-authorized activity and the school does not provide transportation (signed statement from school required)
    2. Driving to/from work (signed statement from employer required)
    3. Medical emergency
    4. Driver is an emancipated minor
  • No drinking and driving

  • Obey all traffic laws

  • Carry proof of insurance


Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws are designed to give young, novice drivers more experience behind the wheel and limit driving in high-risk situations while they are in the learning stages. States began enacting GDL laws in the 1990s. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, effective GDL laws require a learner's permit stage of at least six months with 30-50 hours of supervised driving, and an intermediate stage with limits on night driving and passenger restrictions.

Colorado's first graduated driver's licensing laws went into effect July 1, 1999. The law required teens to drive supervised a minimum of six months with their instruction permits, log 50 hours of driving time with parents or driving instructors (including 10 nighttime hours), no driving for drivers under age 17 between midnight and 5 a.m., and young licensed drivers had to limit passengers to the number of seatbelts in the car. Since then, laws were passed that limit passengers riding with inexperienced drivers, prohibit use of cell phones while driving, and require seatbelts for all occupants under age 18.

For more information on Colorado teen driving safety and laws, please visit or visit Keys2Drive, a AAA website to help parents and teens throughout the learning-to-drive process.

Click here for details about GDL from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Additional Information