Driving Without a License in Colorado

A closeup shot of two hands on the wheel as a person drives without their license.

Even though it’s illegal to drive without a license, as many as 13 percent of drivers take to the roads without a valid license in hand. Driving without a license is illegal in the State of Colorado. Whether you’re caught driving without a license or you’re in an accident with an unlicensed driver, you need to know Colorado’s unlicensed driver laws. Here’s what you need to know from our Denver car accident lawyers.

Colorado Unlicensed Driver Laws

Colorado unlicensed driver laws are found in Colorado Revised Statutes 42-2-101. There are three different types of charges. Driving with an expired license or without having your license in hand is a class B traffic infraction. Driving without ever having a valid license is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. If you drive after your license is suspended or revoked, the offense is a misdemeanor. In the case of driving with a suspended or revoked license, the possible penalties depend on the reason for the original licensing action.

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

There are several different types of driving without a license offenses in Colorado:

Failure to have your license on person

Sometimes, a driver has a valid license, but they forget to take it with them. It’s a class B traffic infraction to fail to have your license with you when you drive. For a first offense, you face a fine of up to $100. If you receive a second offense, you face six points added to your driver’s license. For a first offense, the court may dismiss the charge if you appear with a valid license on or before your court date.

Driving on an expired license

In Colorado, it’s against the law to drive on an expired license. However, if your license has been expired for less than a year, you face only a fine of up to $100. A second offense may have more serious consequences.

Driving without a valid license issued

If you drive without ever having been issued a valid license in Colorado, you face a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. You may receive up to 90 days in jail, but the judge has discretion over sentencing. You may also pay a fine. A second or subsequent conviction for driving without a valid license may result in the state denying you a license for a year.

Driving under restraint

Driving after your license is suspended or revoked is called driving under restraint in Colorado. The maximum penalty depends on the reason for the restraint. If your license is suspended because of a drunk driving offense, you face mandatory minimum jail time and as much as one year in jail. A subsequent conviction may result in up to two years in jail. In addition, repeat offenders face an extended period of mandatory suspension where they are unable to receive a valid driver’s license.

Is There a Grace Period for Colorado Drivers License?

Yes, there is a grace period for a Colorado drivers license. When you’re new to Colorado, you have 30 days to transfer your driver’s license. Usually, you don’t have to take a written or skills test. You also have 90 days to transfer your vehicle registration.

Can Undocumented Immigrants Get a Driver’s License in Colorado?

Yes, undocumented immigrants can get a driver’s license in Colorado. The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act allows undocumented and temporary workers to get a driver’s license. If you can’t prove lawful residency, you must apply in person at one of three locations in Denver, Grand Junction or Colorado Springs.

What to Do If You’re in an Accident With an Unlicensed Driver

If you’re involved in an accident with an unlicensed driver, it can be a frustrating experience. Not only was the crash preventable, but there’s also a good chance that the driver doesn’t have insurance or that they may leave the scene of the accident. It can be hard to know what to do when you’re in an accident with an unlicensed driver.

In all cases, you should call the police even to report a minor car accident. The police can document that the other driver doesn’t have a license. Your attorney can help you investigate whether any car insurance policies may apply to your benefit. In addition, you may be able to bring your claim directly against the at-fault driver for compensation.

Even if the other driver doesn’t have a valid license, Colorado tort laws still apply. You may still deserve compensation if you’re hurt because of the other driver’s bad actions. The fact that the other driver doesn’t have a driver’s license isn’t the only factor in the case, but it’s an important factor. An experienced Denver attorney for car accidents can help you understand your rights under the law.

What happens if you get in an accident while driving without a license?

If you get in an accident while driving without a license, you will have to face legal consequences and be held liable for your actions. Getting into a car accident already has repercussions, especially if you are the cause of the accident. While getting into an accident when driving without a license doesn’t necessarily mean you were the cause of the accident, you still will likely be faced with some type of penalty.

These consequences may include fines or even jail time, depending on the extent to which you have violated the Colorado law.


If you get in an accident without a license, the first level of penalty for your liability includes fines. The amount you are fined depends on many factors and can range from as little as $15 to over $100. While this may not seem like a very steep fine, it certainly can add up. Further, if this isn’t your first time being involved in an accident without a license, you will be faced with having points added to your driving record.


In certain situations, unlicensed drivers can be arrested for getting involved in an accident. As mentioned above, driving without a license is a class B misdemeanor and can result in up to 90 days in jail. However, if you are driving while your license has been revoked or suspended, as opposed to just not having it on your person, then it is possible to spend as long as six months in jail.


Similar to regular accidents, the driver who caused the incident will be held liable for their negligent actions. While driving without a license doesn’t necessarily mean you caused the accident, your level of liability may vary should you be the cause of the accident and not have your license. Your level of liability may also change depending on the reason for your driving without a license. Should you simply fail to have your license on your person, your liability would not be the same as if you were driving while your license was suspended or revoked

How Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

Have you been in a car accident? Was an unlicensed driver involved? Our attorneys can help.

At Bachus & Schanker, LLC, we represent accident victims under all circumstances. We have training and experience in how to help victims of unlicensed drivers. When you have car accident injuries, we can help you fight for your rights and take the necessary steps to get the justice that you deserve.

When you’re hurt because of an unlicensed driver, you have rights under Colorado law. Our full-service law firm can help you take the necessary steps to exercise your rights. Call us at (303) 222-2222 today for a free and confidential discussion with a member of our legal team. Come see why justice is our passion.



Colorado Revised Statutes 42-2-101

Colorado DMV 

Nolo Legal Encyclopedia


Similar Posts