Permitting an Unauthorized Minor to Drive in Colorado
CRS 42–2–139

In Colorado, allowing an unauthorized minor to drive a vehicle is a class B traffic infraction under CRS 42-2-139. Parents who permit their unlicensed child to get behind the wheel can result in a fine of up to $100. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

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In Colorado, no parent or guardian shall cause or knowingly permit his or her child or ward under the age of 18 to drive a motor vehicle when the minor has not been issued a currently valid driver’s license or instruction permit.

1. What is permitting an unauthorized minor to drive in Colorado?

Under CRS 42-2-139, no parent or guardian shall cause or knowingly permit his or her child or ward under the age of 18 to drive a motor vehicle when the minor has not been issued a currently valid driver's license or instruction permit. Permitting an unauthorized minor to drive is a class B traffic infraction and may result in a fine.

In some cases, parents may face additional penalties if allowing the child to drive places the child or other children in danger. Under CRS 18-6-401, a person commits child abuse if they permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child's life or health.1 If the child is not physically harmed, the parents may still face a misdemeanor child abuse charge. However, if the child suffers serious bodily injury, the parents may be charged with felony child abuse. 2

2. What are the penalties for permitting an unauthorized minor to drive?

The penalties for allowing an unauthorized minor to drive to operate your vehicle include a fine ranging from $15 to $100, and a surcharge fee. It does not add points to your driving record. However, if you fail to pay the traffic infraction fine, you may not be able to renew your driver's license until you pay all fines and costs.

3. When can parents allow their child to drive?

Some parents may think allowing their child to drive is ok. This may include occasions when the parent is physically unable to drive because of an injury, unsafe to drive because of alcohol or drugs, to run an errand or pick up another child from school. Whatever the reason, under Colorado law, parents can be ticketed for allowing a child to drive without a license or instruction permit. A minor behind the wheel is a safety concern for the child and the public.

Even if a child is mature and responsible, they are required to go through the procedures to get an instruction permit or driver's license before they can safely operate a vehicle. Minors in Colorado must be over the age of 15 before they can get a Colorado Instruction Permit. Minors under the age of 16 have to attend and complete a state-approved 30-hour Driver Education Class, pass the written test, show identifying documents and proof of physical Colorado address. A parent or guardian must also complete an Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship (DR2460).

4. Related Offenses

Permitting an unauthorized minor to drive is similar to the offense of permitting an unauthorized person to drive a car. Driving without your license may result in a similar traffic infraction. In some cases, a driver allows an unauthorized minor to operate his or her vehicle because they are too intoxicated to drive. However, if an impaired driver does decide to get behind the wheel, they may be facing a DUI arrest. Underage drivers are held to an even higher standard with a zero-tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving.

4.1, C.R.S. 42-2-140 Permitting an Unauthorized Person to Drive 

Permitting an unauthorized person to drive is a class B infraction in Colorado under CRS 42-2-140. The penalties are similar to permitting an unauthorized minor to drive, resulting in a fine of between $15 and $100. However, an unauthorized driver may face additional penalties if they do not have a valid license.

4.2, C.R.S. 42-2-101 Driving Without a License

Driving without a license is a class B traffic infraction in Colorado. This includes driving with an expired license or driving without your valid license in your possession at the time you are pulled over. Driving on a suspended license or driving without ever having been issued a license are separate and more serious offenses. The penalty for driving without a license includes a fine of up to $100. Multiple offenses can result in points on your driving record.

4.3, C.R.S. 42-4-1301 Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense in Colorado under CRS 42-4-1301. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of higher than 0.08% is a per se violation, although drivers can be convicted even if their BAC is below 0.08%. The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol include jail time, fines, a suspended license, and increased insurance costs.

4.4, C.R.S. 42-4-1301(2)(d) Underage Drinking and Driving

In Colorado, it is a criminal offense for drivers under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Under CRS 42-4-1301, the penalties for underage drinking and driving (UDD) include fines, a 3-month suspended license, community service, drug or alcohol education, and increased insurance costs.

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If you were ticketed for permitting an unauthorized minor to drive or charged with a traffic violation, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with motor vehicle violations and criminal offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.


Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-6-401
  2. C.R.S. 18-6-401(7)

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