How to Get a Colorado Learners Permit

You can apply for a Colorado learner's permit once you turn 15—but you’ll need to follow the right steps before you head to the DMV.
Written by Jennifer Justice
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
You can apply for your learner’s permit in Colorado
once you turn 15
if you’ve completed certain steps, including completing 30 hours of driver’s education, passing the written test, and bringing the required identification documents to the DMV.
  • You can get a Colorado learner’s permit after you’ve taken a driver’s ed course and are 15 years old.
  • You must drive with a licensed supervising adult at all times when you have your permit.
  • You can take a road test and apply for your full license once you’ve had your learner’s permit for at least a year.
While you might want to run straight to the DMV the moment you turn 15, you’ll have to do a few things before getting your learner’s permit (also called a minor permit). Let’s look at what you need to do below.

How to get a Colorado learner’s permit

The first step to qualifying for your learner's permit, or minor permit, is to turn at least 15 years old. Once you celebrate that birthday, you can move on to the next step.
You’ll need to complete a state-approved
30-hour driver's education course
. You can start your class at 14 years and 6 months, but you can’t apply for the permit until you turn 15. 
Then, start learning all those traffic laws by going through the
Colorado Driver Handbook
. There are audiobook and Spanish language versions
on the DMV’s site
, plus a practice quiz. 
Once you’ve become an expert, you must pass a written test before hitting the road with that shiny new permit. Colorado even gives you the option to take the test online!
Once you finish the 30-hour class and pass the written test, it’s time to complete some paperwork. You’ll need the right documentation before visiting the DMV, including proof that you attended a driver’s ed class and that you passed the official written exam, identification forms, and the parent/guardian form.
And one last thing—–
you need to pre-register online
and make an appointment with your local office. You can’t just show up and get in line. Luckily, this will make the process go faster once you visit the DMV to get the actual permit.
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What to bring to DMV

Keep in mind that you’ll need a stack of paperwork ready to go before you visit your local DMV. You must
make an appointment
, which you can do online. Let’s look at what you need to bring as far as documentation goes:
In addition to the paperwork listed above, you need to be able to prove your
identity, address, and legal status
, so be sure you have the right documents on hand:
  • Proof of identity (i.e., an ID card, US passport, etc.)
  • Proof of date of birth/Identity (i.e., birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, certified US adoption, etc.)
  • Proof of Social Security number or legal status
  • Proof of current address. These must show your name and street address and be less than a year old (i.e., utility bill, credit card statement, bank statement, etc.)
Depending on your citizenship or legal status, you have a different list to follow for what documents can be used:
Besides the paperwork, you’ll need to
pay the requisite fees
. You can use cash, a check (made payable to DOR), or a credit card. Most learner’s permits will cost $18.52, but if you can’t prove legal residency, you’ll need to pay $21.
Once you’ve made your appointment with the local DMV and gathered your documents, don’t forget to practice your smile for your learner’s permit photo!

Colorado learner’s permit regulations

Let’s say you’ve got that shiny new learner’s permit and are ready to go. Since you’re a new driver without a full license, you have some extra rules to follow (and you can lose your permit if you don’t comply):
  • You must drive with a parent, guardian, driving instructor, or other licensed adult over 21 years old
  • The supervising adult must sit in the front seat 
  • Both the teen driver and all passengers must wear a seat belt
  • The number of passengers cannot be higher than the number of seat belts 
Once you’ve got your permit, you must fulfill other requirements to move on to your license:
  • You’re at least 16 years old
  • You’ve completed and tracked 50 hours of driving using the official
    Drive Time Log Sheet
    , with at least 10 hours of nighttime driving 
  • You’ve passed an official driving test at a state-approved driver’s ed school (not the DMV)
  • You’ve held a learner’s permit for at least 12 months
Then, you can apply to
upgrade your permit to a license
. You’ll just need a new stack of paperwork and to pay the required fees.
You’ll still have some restrictions your first year with a license, such as no driving between midnight and 5 AM and no texting if you’re under 18. You also can’t have any passengers under 21 in the vehicle for the first six months (unless a parent/guardian is with you). 
After that, you can only have one passenger under 21 for the remaining six months. But you’re well on your way!
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers
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