Driving in Colorado

Vehicle Registration
To operate your vehicle in the State of Colorado, it must bear current license plates either from another state or from Colorado. All residents of Colorado are required to register their vehicle in Colorado within 30 days of establishing residency status. To register your car in Colorado (assuming you are a nonresident), you will need (1) the current registration or title, (2) military exemption form, (3) vehicle identification number (VIN) verification (if current registration is other than Colorado), and (4) proof of emissions test.

Military Exemption From Vehicle Ownership Fees
However, active duty military members assigned to a duty station in Colorado or assigned to a unit in Colorado from which they were then assigned to an unaccompanied/ remote tour may register their vehicle in Colorado without having to pay the Colorado Ownership Tax.

To register the vehicle, the active duty member must complete a Non-Resident Affidavit for each vehicle and must renew this form each year.

With the proper documentation, nonresident military members are exempt from the vehicle ownership tax, which is the personal property tax Colorado residents must pay for vehicle registration. Military exemption forms are available at USAFA Legal Office, located at Building 8034, from 0800-1100 and 1300-1600.

To obtain the exemption, you (1) must be assigned to a military base in Colorado, (2) show a copy of your current registration or renewal notice, and (3) show a military ID card. Please note: to use the exemption, the active duty military member must have their name on the vehicle title/registration (the vehicle can’t just be in the spouse’s name). Also, military spouses must have a specific Power of Attorney and a current copy of the active duty person’s orders assigning them to a military base in Colorado to be able to use the exemption.

Emissions Test
Any individually owned vehicle that will be used in Colorado for 90 days or more, must comply with Colorado’s vehicle air emissions law. Even if you register your vehicle in another state, you must have your vehicle tested when you move to Colorado. Tests are conducted by authorized service stations for a fee, and a sticker is then placed in the vehicle’s window. If a vehicle fails the emission test and is later brought into compliance, the owner can obtain a certificate of adjustment. Emissions tests are good for two years. Brand new vehicles that have never been titled/registered in another state are exempt from admissions testing for four years.

License Plates
Colorado has a staggered registration with a 30-day grace period. Two plates (front and rear) are issued initially and validated by stickers each year thereafter. Both plates should be displayed on the vehicle. A vehicle registered in another state must be physically present in Colorado before it can be registered. If you stay in nonresident status, and register your car in Colorado, you must submit an exemption form every time you renew your license plates. Renewals may be done by mail. If you sell your car, you retain the Colorado plates.

Minimum Insurance Requirements
Vehicle owners driving on Colorado roads must carry liability and no-fault insurance. The minimum coverage is $25,000 per injured person, $50,000 per accident, and $15,000 for property damage. However, obtaining more than the minimum levels of insurance is strongly recommended. By law, drivers MUST have proof of insurance on their persons or in the car. The police will issue a citation if you do not.

Colorado Driver’s Licenses
Regular, or adult operator licenses, are issued to drivers over the age of 21, expiring on the driver’s birthday four years after issue. Provisional licenses are given to drivers 18-21 years old, expiring 20 days after the driver’s 21st birthday. The minor operator license is given to driver’s 16-18 years old, and expires 20 days after the driver’s 18th birthday. There are also two types of learner’s permits.

To obtain a valid Colorado license, the individual must meet the above age requirements and: (1) pass a written test, (2) pass a driving test (which may be waived for an adult applicant holding a valid out-of-state license), (3) pass a vision test, (4) be fingerprinted and photographed, and (5) pay the appropriate fee.

A special license or endorsement on a driver’s license is required to operate a motorcycle. This type of license requires separate testing procedures. Eye protection must be worn while operating a motorcycle. However, no special license or testing is required to operate a moped—a valid driver’s license is sufficient.

Driver’s License Military Exemption
Nonresident military members do not have to get a Colorado driver’s license if they are on active duty, stationed in Colorado, and have a valid license from their home state. Spouses of military members with a valid license from his/her home state are also not required to obtain a Colorado driver’s license. These exemptions apply even though the military member or dependent may be employed in Colorado or have their vehicle registered in the state.

Do I Need a CO Driver’s License?
As a general rule, residents operating a motor vehicle in Colorado are required to obtain a driver's license within 30 days of establishing residency. A person is deemed a resident if they meet one of the following criteria.
  • Are employed in Colorado Operate or own a business in Colorado
  • Reside in Colorado for 90 continuous days
Non-resident active duty members assigned to Colorado are not required to obtain a Colorado driver's license, provided they have a valid driver's license issued by the member's state of residency.

The same rule applies to spouses and children of active duty military members who accompany the member on the Colorado assignment.

Drinking and Driving
In Colorado, you must be 21 years old to drink, possess, or purchase alcoholic beverages. It is also against the law to drink in public places (anywhere that is not a bar, restaurant, or private property). When it comes to mixing alcohol and vehicles, the best advice is NEVER to drink and drive. The penalties are severe, and strictly enforced.

Consent to Blood/Breath Alcohol Testing
If lawfully stopped, all drivers in Colorado must consent to testing the alcohol content of their blood or breath. Anyone who refuses to take the requested breath or blood test will automatically have their driver’s license suspended for ONE YEAR. Law enforcement officers may administer a field

What is required to obtain a CO Driver's License?
  • Two forms of ID
  • Provide your Social Security Number
  • Provide a Colorado residence address
  • Pass a Physical Aptitude Test (analysis made by driver's license employee of any physical ailments/disability that may affect your driving)
  • Pass a Vision Test
  • Pass a Written Examination
  • Pass a Driving Test

Where Do I Go To Acquire a License?
Colorado Springs has three offices where you can go to obtain a driver's license:

Full Service Office
4420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy, 80918
(719) 594-8701

Downtown (Centennial Hall)
200 S. Cascade Avenue, 80903
(719) 520-6239

Colorado licenses, only Chapel Hills Mall
1710 Briargate Blvd.
(719) 594-8701
Renewals of regular Colorado licenses, only

sobriety test when they have a reasonable suspicion that the person driving the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Driving Uner the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Abilities Impaired (DWAI)
Colorado uses a driver’s blood alcohol level as an indication of intoxication, although driving under the influence of alcohol can also be proven using other evidence, such as the field sobriety test, the officer’s observations of the driver’s demeanor, etc. A person who has a blood alcohol level between .05 and .10 is presumed to be "driving while abilities impaired." (DWAI) If the level is .10 or greater, the person is driving under the influence of alcohol. (DUI)

Penalties For DUI and DWAI
If convicted of DUI, you will lose your driver’s license for one year. You may also be sentenced to public service work, fines, and/or imprisonment. If convicted of DWAI, you may lose your driver’s license for three months. You will also be sentenced to mandatory public service work, fines, and/or imprisonment. Repeat offenders, and those who injure or kill someone, are dealt with more harshly.

If found guilty, in addition to the court-imposed fines, you will also pay court costs, attorney fees, a $100 alcohol evaluation fee, a $60 payment to the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund, and a $25 payment to a victim compensation fund.

Miscellaneous Vehicle-Related Provisions

Colorado Restraint Laws – Every child under the age of four, and weighing less than 40 pounds, must be secured in a child restraint system. The fine is $100 for noncompliance. All adults must use seat belts.

Accident Reporting – Colorado law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in personal injury or vehicle damage to provide the other driver with name, address, and registration number, and to show a valid driver’s license. Colorado law also requires that the driver involved in an accident make a "Report of Motor Vehicle Accident" to the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, within 10 days if the accident is not reported by police. Check with your local police department or the Department of Motor Vehicles about information and restrictions regarding this report.

Deer Strikes – There are over 100 vehicle-deer collisions every year on the Academy. For claims purposes, deer are regarded as an expected hazard of driving on the Academy, and the Air Force will not compensate you for damage to your car. Deer can behave unpredictably; count on slowing down or stopping to let them make up their minds. If you see one deer cross the road, be aware that they rarely travel alone and others may be off to the side, ready to jump into the roadway. The custom is to flash your headlights at oncoming traffic to warn the drivers that deer are near the roadway.

Too Fast For Conditions – The speed limits posted on the Academy are maximum speeds for clear and dry road conditions. Because of Colorado’s mountain weather, the Academy roadways are often icy or snow-packed. Collisions are particularly frequent at tri-intersections and at the base of Community Center Drive. If you drive the speed limit on an icy day and have a collision, you WILL be cited for driving too fast for conditions. When in doubt, slow down. Drive on snow routes during inclement weather.

Hail or Wind Damage – Colorado’s mountain weather presents some risk of damage to your car. Review your auto insurance coverage to make sure you will be covered for hail or wind damage.

Right On Red – Colorado is a "right on red" state, so you can turn right on a red light.

Lemon Law – Colorado has an automobile "lemon law," giving consumers expanded protection when they buy NEW cars or trucks from dealers (see Colorado Revised Statutes 42-10-101 through 42-10-107). Under this law, buyers are allowed a replacement or refund if their vehicle fails to conform substantially to written warranties, or if it has a condition substantially impairing its use or value. Before the replacement or refund, the manufacturer or dealer has a reasonable time to repair the defect. If repairs fail, the dealer has the option of replacing the vehicle with a comparable model or accepting return of the vehicle and refunding the buyer the full price, less a reasonable fee for use of the vehicle. This obligation runs for the term of the warranty or for one year, whichever is less.

Automobile Repairs – Under Colorado law, a garage cannot repair your vehicle without first giving a written estimate of repair if the cost of the repair is $100 or more. Also, the actual cost of the repair cannot exceed the estimate by 10% or $25, whichever is less. Be careful not to waive your rights under this statute.
U.S. Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO 80840, (719) 333-1110 DSN: 333-1110, Updated: 28 Feb 15
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