Types of Colorado Driver’s Licenses
There is a specific set of instruction permit requirements for every type of driver’s license in Colorado.
Class A, B, C
With any of these commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), you will be capable of operating vehicle combinations with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) above 26,001 lb.
- Class A enables you to operate the vehicles towed that have the GVRW above 10,000 lb.
- Class B lets you drive vehicles with a GVWR of above 26,001 lb provided that the vehicles towed have the GVWR not greater than 10,000 lb.
- Class C allows you to operate any combination of vehicles or a single vehicle transporting hazardous materials (make sure it has the proper placards) or sixteen or more passengers along with the driver.
This is the basic driving license that allows you to operate any vehicle except a commercial vehicle and motorcycle. Still, you can operate a low-power scooter with this type of license.
With this motorcycle endorsement, you can drive a 2- or 3-wheel motorcycle. To apply for Class M, you are supposed to have a valid CO driver’s license. Consider taking a motorcycle practice test or reading the Motorcycle Operator Handbook for the state of Colorado.
Applying for a Junior Learner Permit
According to Colorado Graduated Driver Licensing, the driver instruction permit represents the 1st stage of the program that applies to drivers under age 21. It’s valid for three years. With a junior learner permit, the young drivers can practice driving provided that licensed drivers supervise them – they must be 21 or older.
It is important to point out that the instruction permit involves applying in person at any of the DMV offices that issue permits. However, the application process can be started online. Even though walk-ins are accepted in most cases, you are advised to make an appointment. It is meant to shorten the wait time.
Walk-ins are not allowed for those who can’t prove legal presence in the United States. To to get their SB251 permit, they have to make an appointment with any of these DMV offices:
- Colorado Springs
- Westgate, or
- Grand Junction
The following are things you need to do when applying for a junior learner permit in Colorado.
What to Bring?
First things first, you need to bring documentation to verify your Social Security Number, Colorado address, and identity. Take a look at this checklist to find the documentation required.
Next, you should bring proof of the completed driver’s education course. In fact, you need to submit DR 2956 (an Affidavit of Completion of Driver Education Course) to show that you’ve completed the driver education course.
If you have obtained a driver’s license through a Driver Awareness Program, make sure it’s not older than 6 months. Here are some age-specific requirements to consider:
- Anyone between 15 and 15 ½ years old should have a 30-hour driver’s education course completed (no longer than 6 months ago) when applying for a junior learner permit.
- People between 15½ and 16 years old are required to have a 30-hour driver’s education course (completed online or in a classroom). Alternatively, they can take a 4-hour driver awareness class.
- Driver education isn’t required for those who turned 16.
Aside from this, applicants under age 18 should also bring their legal guardians or parents with them to sign the DR 2460 form (Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship). It can be done in the presence of either a notary public or a DMV employee.
Pass the Written/Computerized DMV Knowledge Test
As an alternative way, applicants who have passed the written or computerized knowledge test can bring along the DMV test completion form. Those who can’t prove their legal presence in the United States will have to take a knowledge test (computerized or written) by appointment at DMV offices.
Submit Your Picture and Fingerprints
When applying for the learner’s permit, applicants must have their picture and fingerprints taken.
Paying the Permit Fee
Applicants need to pay the fee of $48.19 for SB251 permits or $16.8 for regular permits. You can pay by credit card, cash, or check.
Start Supervised Driving After Receiving Your Permit
Soon after getting a temporary permit, you will receive the actual one via mail. This permit is valid for three years. Make good use of that time. Practice driving with a licensed adult while preparing for an adult or minor driver’s license.
Applying for a Minor Driver’s License
With a minor driver’s license, you will be able to drive the same types of vehicles just as you would with an adult driver’s license. However, there are a few restrictions:
- No use of wireless communication devices, including cell phones, is allowed while driving (except for an emergency) until you turn 18.
- You mustn’t transport passengers under 21 years of age (except a sibling of yours) during the first 6 months. However, you will be permitted to 1 passenger under 21 during the next 6 months.
- Once you turn 18 or after your 1st year, you will be allowed to transport more than one passenger under 21 years of age.
- You’ll not be allowed to drive between midnight and 5 am during your 1st year. There is an exception, though. You can drive during this time of the day from or to work/school provided that your legal guardian or parent accompanies you.
Continue reading to get a clear understanding of how to apply for a minor driver’s license.
Step 1: Hold a learner permit for at least one year
The instruction permit must be held for at least 12 months before getting a driver’s license in the state of Colorado.
Step 2: Practice supervised driving regularly
By submitting a drive time log sheet (it must be signed by either a guardian or parent), applicants under 18 show that they have spent a minimum of 50 hours behind the wheel. The practice time must include ten hours of driving at night.
Individuals under 16 ½ need to take (and complete) a 6-hour behind-the-wheel training course. Those living more than thirty miles from certified driving schools can benefit from substituting an extra 12 hours of their drive time for driving training.
Step 3: Apply in person at a DMV office
Remember that applying in person is required for this type of license. Applicants are supposed to visit DMV offices that issue new driver’s licenses. It also involves making an appointment for those who can’t prove their lawful presence in the United States.
Step 4: Bring your documentation along
You will have to show certain documents (see this checklist) when submitting your instruction permit to verify your identity as well as your Social Security Number and your residence.
Step 5: Pass a vision examination & drive skills test
Once you pass a vision examination (20/40 is the min vision standard), you will have to pass a drive skills test at a driving school too. Keep in mind that the Test Completion Form should be submitted on that occasion. Some applicants prefer taking driving tests at the DMV offices, while others would rather make the appointments online.
Step 6: Pay the license fee
There is a fee of $26 that should be paid for a regular driver’s license. If you apply for a CO-RCSA SB251, you will need to pay $79.58.
Step 7: Get your minor driver’s license
You will get your permanent driver’s license by mail shortly after receiving a temporary one (before it expires). Feel free to contact the local DMV office where you’ve applied in case you didn’t get your permanent license after 30 days. Be sure to renew your driver’s license – you’ll get an adult driving license – when you turn 21. Make sure your minor driver’s license didn’t expire yet.
Applying for an Adult Driver’s License
You should hold an instruction permit to be eligible for a full (adult) driver’s license – Class R. It will certify that you’ve passed both a written and vision exam. Once you turn 21, you will not have to hold the learner (instruction) permit anymore. Consider taking a driving skills test at your earliest convenience.
What about minor license holders?
Their minor driver’s license will expire on the twentieth day when they turn 21 or in three years. In any case, minor license holders need to renew their driver’s license after turning 21 but before their license expires. They will get a full (adult) driver’s license this time.
If you are a first-timer, you will have to start afresh, i.e. from Step 1. That involves applying in person, bringing documentation, passing the written knowledge test and vision examination, etc.
Instruction permit holders will be able to skip the first few steps. However, they will be required to get their permit, as well as practice supervised driving, pass the driving skills test, and pay the license fee to receive an adult driving license.
Let’s shed some light on the steps applicants need to go through when applying for an adult driver’s license in Colorado.
Step 1: Apply in person at a DMV office
Just as with a minor driver’s license, you will need to visit a DMV office and apply in person. Nevertheless, the application process can be initiated online. That will save you the hassle of going to a DMV office. We recommend making an appointment to reduce your waiting time.
Not everyone can prove his/her lawful presence in the United States. While walk-ins are not allowed for those applicants, they can still get their SB251 permit by making an appointment with these DMV offices:
- Grand Junction
- Westgate, and
- Colorado Springs
Step 2: Bring documentation with you
Every document you provide must be certified amended original, unaltered certified original, or true copy certified by the issuing agency. Use this checklist to select the documentation required. It’s intended to verify your identity, Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number, and your Colorado residency.
Step 3: Pass a vision examination and written knowledge test
Once you pass a vision examination (20/40 is the min vision standard), you will have to pass the written knowledge test. You can also bring the test completion form when applying for a Colorado adult driver’s license.
Step 4: Have your fingerprints and picture taken
Step 5: Pay the permit fee ($48.19 for an SB251 permit and $16.80 for a regular permit)
Step 6: Practice supervised driving
While preparing for the driving skills test, you should practice driving at the same time. Get supervised by a licensed adult.
Step 7: Pass the driving skills test
Visit the local driving school that provides the driving skills tests in Colorado. Did you pass the test? Great! Submit the test completion form showing that you passed the driving skills test successfully. You should also consider taking the test by appointment and making the appointment online.
Applicants are required to provide proof of valid insurance and vehicles with valid registration when taking the test. Those who apply for SB251 licenses should also visit a DMV office and take the driving skills test.
Step 8: Pay the license fee
Applying for a regular license involves paying a fee of $26. If you want to apply for an SB251 driver’s license, be ready to pay $79.58.
Step 9: Get your adult driver’s license
Lastly, you will get your adult driver’s license by mail. Please note that you will get a temporary driver’s license before receiving a regular one. The latter is valid for 5 years. Some people don’t receive their regular license after 30 days for some reason. In that case, you should call 303-205-5948 or contact the DMV office as soon as possible.
What to Consider Before Taking a Colorado Knowledge Test
Visit a DMV office that issues Colorado driver’s licenses and take the written exam. Although walk-ins are allowed at most locations, it is recommended to make an appointment online. It is important to note that certified driving schools also provide the written knowledge tests.
What does the written exam include?
The written knowledge exam includes 25 multiple-choice test questions. It covers everything from driving under the influence (DUI) and road signs to legal issues to driving rules and safety rules.
How should I prepare for the test?
Take practice tests besides and read through Colorado Driver Handbook.
How to check whether I passed the test or not?
The maximum number of questions you can miss is 5, while the minimum passing score is 80 percent.
What to do if I don’t pass the test?
Don’t give up! Schedule another appointment when you are ready to try again.
When to arrive for the test?
We recommend avoiding days after holidays, Mondays, and Fridays because these are usually the busiest days. You should arrive at least half an hour before the closing time of the driving license office.
How to avoid common mistakes?
Pore over the handbook and don’t rely solely on practice tests. Do not rush through test questions. Put a lot of effort and time into remembering what you’ve studied to avoid common mistakes.
Is it allowed to use the driver’s handbooks when taking the actual test?
No, it’s not allowed.
Is it possible to take the knowledge test in other languages besides English?
The knowledge test is also offered in Spanish. Some third-party schools offer it in other languages, too.
What to Do Before, During, and After the Road Test
Are you ready to take the road (drive) test? This type of test is intended to measure the drivers’ skills as well as their knowledge of safe and legal driving practices.
Not every Colorado driver’s license office offers drive tests. During the test, only the examiner and the driver can be in the vehicle. If you need an explanation of the instruction part, you will be able to bring an interpreter.
Keep in mind that the road test is by appointment only. Don’t be late for the appointment scheduled. Otherwise, you would be required to reschedule.
Before the road test
You are supposed to bring a vehicle that is legally licensed. Additionally, you should bring evidence of registration and insurance with you. Before the test, certain features of your vehicle will be checked by your examiner, including:
- Turn signals
- Brake lights
- Seat belts
Don’t hesitate to ask a question if any before the beginning of the test.
During the road test
During the test, you need to showcase your skills and abilities to:
- See and understand what to do
- Perceive and observe the traffic environment
- Conduct 2 or more performances (like control speed, steer, watch) simultaneously
In addition, you will have to demonstrate the maneuvers such as:
- General driving behavior
- Through intersections techniques
- Stop intersections techniques
- Lane changes
- Left and right turns
- Speed control
- Observing traffic
- Merging to/from traffic
- Lane management
- Proper lane selection
After the road test
Visit the driver licensing office after the test to see your score. You will also be able to review each error you made along with comments. It is not uncommon for drivers to fail the skills test. If that happens to you too, you will have to wait until tomorrow and ask for another exam.
Sometimes the applicants who failed the road test are required to wait a while (for several days or weeks). This happens if the examiner thinks the driver should continue to practice for a while longer before taking the test again.
Colorado Driver’s License for New Residents
You need to submit an application for a driver’s license no more than 30 days after becoming a resident of Colorado. The residents of Colorado are defined as individuals who meet one or more of these requirements:
- People who have continuously resided in Colorado for 90 or more days.
- Those who own or run a business in Colorado.
- Individuals who are gainfully employed within the state.
How to Get a Valid Out-of-State Driver’s License
Do you move from another state? If you have a driver’s license (it must be valid) obtained in another state, you should neither take the driving skills test nor pass the written exam. Still, you will have to go through the following 5-step process to get an out-of-state driver’s license:
- Step 1 – Apply in person: The out-of-state licenses must be transferred in person at DMV offices. While walk-ins are accepted in most DMV locations throughout Colorado, applicants can also make an appointment. Those who aren’t lawfully present in the United States and who want to apply for SB251 licenses should transfer their licenses by making an appointment.
- Step 2 – Surrender out-of-state driver’s license: Maybe your full legal name is not displayed on your license. If so, you will have to confirm your full name by providing your county-issued birth certificate or certified original state, as well as your military ID and US passport if applicable.
- Step 3 – Select and bring documentation required: Use this checklist to determine which documents you need to bring along. This will help verify your lawful residency, identity, and Social Security Number.
- Step 4 – Take a vision test
- Step 5 – Pay the fee ($79.58 for SB251 licenses and $26 for regular licenses).
Once you’ve submitted the application, you wil receive a temporary driver’s license. Please note that it’s valid for 30 days only. The permanent license is likely to be sent to your mail on time before the temporary one runs out. If you’ve not got it after one month, call 303-205-5948 or contact the Colorado DMV office to check what’s going on.
How to Get a Valid Foreign Driver’s License
Anyone who holds a foreign driver’s license from Germany, France, Canada, Taiwan, or South Korea shouldn’t take the driving skills and written tests. If you need to transfer the driver’s license, the procedure is much the same as that for the out-of-state driver’s license.
When it comes to driver’s licenses from other countries, you will have to transfer your license just as you would apply for a new driver’s license in Colorado. Applicants over the age of 18 may take a driving skills test as well as eye and written exams when they apply for a foreign driver’s license. They can also purchase a Colorado driving license and instruction permit on the same day.