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What is the penalty for driving without a license in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

It depends on whether the driver simply forgot to carry the license, never had one, or had the wrong one:

Driving without a License (42-2-101 C.R.S.)

Colorado Penalties

The driver has a current and valid license but forgot to bring it

Class B traffic infraction:

  • $15 – $100 in fines

A subsequent conviction puts six DMV points on the defendant's license.

The court may dismiss the charge if the defendant produces a current and valid license by the next court appearance.

The driver's license expired less than one year ago

Class B traffic infraction:

  • $15 – $100 in fines

A subsequent conviction puts six DMV points on the defendant's license.

The court may dismiss the charge if the defendant produces a current and valid license by the next court appearance.

The driver never had a license, or it expired at least one year earlier

Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense:

  • 10 – 90 days in jail, and/or
  • $150 – $300 in fines

A subsequent conviction may prevent the defendant from getting a license for one year.

The driver's license was for the wrong class of vehicle, such as a motorcycle or commercial vehicles that either:

  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 pounds;
  • Are designed to move 16 or more people, including the driver; or
  • Are carrying hazardous materials

Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense:

  • 10 – 90 days in jail, and/or
  • $150 – $300 in fines

A subsequent conviction may prevent the defendant from getting a license for one year.

The driver's license is suspended or revoked, a.k.a. driving under restraint (42-2-138 C.R.S.)

The restraint was due to DUI

Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 1 year in jail (with at least 30 days mandatory), and
  • $500 – $1,000 in discretionary fines

The suspension or revocation will be extended by one year.

A subsequent offense is also a misdemeanor:

  • Up to 2 years in jail (with at least 60 days mandatory), and
  • $500 – $3,000 in discretionary fines

The suspension or revocation will be extended for four years (if the incident occurred within five years of the last one).

Non-DUI cases

Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • $500 in fines

A subsequent conviction within five years will extend the suspension or revocation for three years.

Defenses to "driving without a license" charges

Depending on the facts of the case, six possible defenses to 42-2-101 C.R.S. charges include:

  1. The defendant had a current and valid license. He/she merely forgot to carry it the day he/she was being pulled over.
  2. The license had expired within the last year, and the defendant renewed it after being ticketed.
  3. The defendant's license has been lost, destroyed, or stolen.
  4. The defendant's trunk weighed less than the required weight to get a commercial driver's license (CDL).
  5. The defendant drove because it was necessary to prevent a serious and imminent injury not caused by his/her driving.
  6. The defendant did not need to have a license either because:
    • He/she was an active military member;
    • He/she had a valid out-of-state license and was merely visiting Colorado;
    • He/she just moved to Colorado within the last 30 days and had a current and valid out-of-state license; or
    • He/she was temporarily operating farm equipment.

 

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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