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Driving in Colorado

Owning and driving an automobile comes with some major responsibilities. It is recommended that you read the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) Driver Handbook to familiarize yourself with driving in Colorado since the traffic laws and rules of the road can be very different from those of other countries or even other states.

The DMV website provides information on registering a vehicle in Colorado, obtaining license plates for your car, emissions testing, and office locations.

Driver Responsibilities

Seat Belts

Wearing seat belts is mandatory for the driver and any front seat passengers. All children sixteen years old or younger are required to be properly fastened with a seat belt or a child restraint system appropriate for their age and weight. It is highly recommended that every occupant of a vehicle wear a seat belt at all times since it is one of the most effective ways to lessen or prevent injuries in the event of an accident.

The Colorado Department of Transportation provides Car Seat Guidelines to ensure that all vehicle occupants especially children are properly secured in their seats.


Every vehicle owner is required by Colorado law to purchase a minimum level of liability and medical payments (Med Pay) insurance. While not mandatory, many owners buy higher levels of coverage to protect themselves from financial loss in the event of an accident or other incident.

Your insurance provider will give you proof of insurance which must be kept in the vehicle at all times.  More detailed information on automobile insurance is found below.

Using Cell Phone While Driving

Colorado law prohibits drivers from sending or reading text messages while driving. Drivers under eighteen years of age are prohibited from texting or talking on a cell phone.

Winter Driving

Many drivers have not experienced driving in slippery conditions or extreme cold until they moved to Colorado. The How to Go on Ice and Snow guide produced by the American Automobile Association (AAA) gives useful tips to be prepared for winter driving.

Vehicle Maintenance

Drivers must make sure that their vehicles are safe to operate and comply with Colorado motor vehicle regulations. Page 12 of the Colorado Driver Handbook lists several things that need to be properly maintained such as brakes, lights, exhaust system, and tires.

Purchasing an Automobile

Buying a vehicle is different from most other purchases in that there is rarely an opportunity to return the car if you change your mind after the sale is complete. Therefore, it is important to research the many aspects of a vehicle purchase in order to make a good decision. Here are two Colorado Department of Revenue websites which provide information on buying a car.

Motor Vehicle Buying Tips
Buyer and Seller Responsibilities

Many commercial websites also provide comprehensive resources for determining the price and quality of new or used vehicles.

Kelley Blue Book

Automobile Insurance

Colorado state law requires car owners to maintain automobile liability insurance that provides coverage in case of accident, death, or injury. You may purchase insurance that provides for the minimum required amounts only, or you may choose to purchase coverage that provides for higher amounts. Many car owners also purchase collision insurance to cover damage to their own vehicle and/or comprehensive insurance which covers other types of loss such as from storms or vandals.

Purchasing Automobile Insurance

When you speak to an insurance salesperson or visit an insurance website, you will be asked a number of questions to determine the type of coverage you would like to purchase. You should be notified of the minimum amount of liability insurance required by Colorado law and be given the opportunity to purchase higher amounts. Make sure that you understand the terms and conditions of what the insurance will cover before agreeing to a plan. We also recommend requesting quotes for coverage from several different companies before purchasing.

Insurance Providers

There are a number of auto insurance providers in the Denver metro area. The following companies are just a few of providers you can choose from.  Neither the University nor International Student and Scholar Services endorses a particular company or insurance plan.

Insurance Provider Toll-Free Phone Number
Allstate 866-621-6900
Farmers Insurance Group 800-327-6377
Geico 800-861-8380
Nationwide 877-669-6877
Progressive 800-776-4737
State Farm 800-782-8332

The purpose of this web page is to provide a broad overview of the subject. It should not be considered an authoritative resource. No company listed above is affiliated with or endorsed by the University of Denver.