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Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Laws

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What is GDL?

Colorado implemented Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws to help teenagers gain important driving skills gradually while limiting risks. While the GDL laws aren’t always convenient for busy parents and teens, their lifesaving impact is indisputable. Teen traffic deaths are down 67 percent since GDL laws went into effect in Colorado in 2005.

Definitions and details

Passenger restrictions: For the first six months, your teen cannot have any passengers under age 21, unless a parent or another licensed adult driver is in the vehicle. If after the first six months, you feel your teen is responsible enough to drive unsupervised with friends, he or she may do so but with only one passenger under age 21 for the next six months. Siblings and passengers with medical emergencies are exceptions. No more than one passenger is allowed in the front seat at any time.

Mandatory seat belts: By law, ALL teen drivers and passengers must wear seat belts. (No sharing!) Teen drivers are also responsible for the safety of their passengers and can be ticketed if they are not properly wearing seat belts.

Power down!: Distracted driving can have deadly consequences. Teens under age 18 are prohibited from texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. Teens can be fined and may risk losing their license. Exceptions include emergency calls to the police or fire department.

Curfew: For the first year as a licensed driver, teen drivers must abide by a curfew: no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an instructor, parent or legal guardian. Exceptions include driving to and from school or work (signed statement from school or work is required), medical emergencies and emancipated minors.

Zero tolerance for drunk driving: For minors, driving with even a trace of alcohol is punishable by law. Parents and teens should devise a back-up plan if necessary to make sure the teen arrives home safely. For a refresher on all traffic laws, parents can review the Department of Revenue’s Drivers Handbook: www.Colorado.gov/Revenue/DMV. The Parent GDL Online Course is available at www.COTeenDriver.com.

Other ways teens can lose their license: Teens can lose his or her driver’s license for being caught with alcohol or marijuana, even when not behind the wheel. Recent updates to the Minor in Possession laws state that an alcohol or marijuana violation by anyone under 21 will result in an automatic loss of the violator’s driver’s license.

New law in Colorado

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

Move Over Law: When you see stopped emergency vehicles on highways with activated red, white or blue lights in an adjacent lane, you must move over one lane, if you can do so safely. If it is not safe or you are traveling on a road that is one lane in each direction, you must slow down.

Colorado’s Move Over Law protects law enforcement, fire, maintenance, other emergency personnel and you.

The Foster Children Driver License Act: Effective August 2, 2019, this streamlines the process for foster children to obtain a driver license.

Visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/dmv/foster-children-driver-licenses for more information.

A note about curfews

It is recommended to extend the hours of the mandatory curfew, as research shows that most teen crashes happen between 9pm and midnight. Encourage your teen to be off the road by 9pm.