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Driving Without a License in Colorado: Fines, Jail Time & More

In Colorado, driving without a valid license is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500 in fines and/or up to six months in jail. Additional penalties can include points on your driving record and possible vehicle impoundment. Repeat offenses can result in harsher penalties.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Without a License in Colorado?

According to Colorado Law, in Colorado, there are various offenses related to driving without a license [1]:

Failure to Have Your License on Person: If you forget your valid license at home, it’s a class B traffic infraction. The first offense can result in a fine of up to $100, and the charge might be dismissed if you present a valid license in court before your date. A second offense adds six points to your license.

  • Driving on an Expired License: Driving with an expired license is illegal. If it’s expired for less than a year, the penalty is a fine of up to $100. Repeated offenses can lead to more severe consequences.
  • Driving Without a Valid License Issued: Never having been issued a valid license in Colorado is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a potential fine. A second offense may lead to a license denial for a year.
  • Driving Under Restraint: Driving with a suspended or revoked license, known as driving under restraint, has penalties that vary based on the reason for the suspension. If due to a DUI, mandatory minimum jail time and up to one year in jail may apply, with harsher penalties for repeat offenses, including up to two years in jail and extended license suspension.

What is the Statute?

Under C.R.S. 42-2-138(1), anyone who drives a motor vehicle or off-highway vehicle on a Colorado highway while knowing their license or driving privilege is under restraint (for reasons other than DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, or UDD) is committing a misdemeanor.

Furthermore, C.R.S. 42-2-138(1.5) states that driving under restraint due to an outstanding judgment is a class A traffic infraction.

Therefore, if you are aware that your license or driving privilege is revoked in any state, driving in Colorado can result in a citation and potentially jail time.

What are the Consequences for Driving Without a License in Colorado?

Driving without a license in Colorado is considered a class B traffic infraction if:

  • You possess a valid license but did not have it with you when pulled over, or
  • Your previous Colorado driver’s license has been expired for less than one year (as long as you renew it).

According to SCLG, the penalty for a first-time offense is a fine ranging from $15 to $100. Repeated offenses result in six points added to your Colorado DMV driving record [2].

If you have never been issued a Colorado driver’s license, it is a class A traffic infraction, with fines between $15 and $100 and potential DMV points. Subsequent convictions also carry up to six DMV points – SCLG

Most Common Reasons for Loss of Driving Privileges in Colorado

A driver can lose their license in various ways, with some of the most common causes in Colorado including:

Conviction of DUI: It is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The penalties for this offense include not only driver’s license suspension but also fines and potentially jail time. Penalties increase significantly if a convicted driver has a record of past DUI offenses and/or causes bodily harm or death while driving under the influence.

  • Refusing a Chemical Test: In Colorado, licensed drivers give implied consent to chemical and field sobriety tests if suspected of DUI. Refusing these tests can result in license suspension under the state’s implied consent law.
  • Hit-and-Run Convictions: Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious offense. Drivers face liability for damages, criminal prosecution, and potential license suspension or revocation, depending on their record and the severity of the incident.
  • Unpaid Traffic Tickets: Neglecting or refusing to pay traffic tickets can lead to accumulating penalties and demerit points, which may result in an automatic license suspension if too many points accrue.
  • Driving Without Auto Insurance: Colorado requires all drivers to carry minimum auto insurance coverage. Failing to provide proof of insurance when stopped by a police officer can lead to license suspension until acceptable coverage is verified.
  • Unpaid Child Support: Nonpayment of court-ordered child support can result in a driver’s license suspension. This suspension usually lasts until the owed amount is repaid but can be extended under certain conditions.

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