What you need to know {having a new driver}


My oldest, the boy who made me a mother, turns 16 this month. After I finished mopping up my tears, I headed into panic mode. I’m about to have another licensed driver in my house! Eeek!

If you need help with a new driver and what you need to know – I’ve got the skinny!

First off, in Colorado, you should be getting some information together starting about 14 1/2. 14?? You may say, but yes! State laws for minor licensing are different in every state.  In Colorado, we have a graduated licensing program. I think that it’s very easy to find what you’re looking for on the CDOR website. Just know that if your child is under the age of 18, they must have held a permit for 365 days, no less. That’s right one FULL year.

What you need to know {having a new driver} | Denver Metro Moms Blog
Learning the ropes

For permits it’s broken down like this:

Between 15 and 15 years, 6 months old your child must:

  • Successfully complete 30-hours of a drivers ed course and
  • Study and pass the written test.

*Note: I highly suggest making an appointment 4-6 weeks in advance if possible… and if that doesn’t work for you, head into the DMV with a book and some patience (your teen will need the same).

Between 15 years, 6 months and 16 years, your child must:

  • Successfully complete a 30-hour drivers ed course OR a 4-hour drivers awareness class, and
  • Study and pass the written test.

Between 16 and 21 years:

  • Study and pass the written test; no formal education required.

*Minor permits are valid for 3-years. Phew! That’s just permits! I know that drivers ed can be a huge expense, but many schools offer a mostly online version that is less and they are still able to get in 6-hours of drive time with an instructor. Because the State of Colorado requires some sort of actual drivers ed/awareness class to get their permits, look ahead! Your teen can take the class 6-months before turning 15 and the written test at the class 30-days (in most cases) prior to their birthday, as well. If you are looking for an in person class, be sure to start looking early-the classes offered over any type of break (Christmas, Spring Break) fill up FAST!

Quick note on insurance:

The other bonus of required drivers ed is that it does give you a break on your car insurance. When you add on a teen, it hurts the bottom line greatly, get every possible discount possible! Good grades, drivers ed, and your own driving record can play into how much you add on with a teen. It may be a good time to sit down with your agent to be sure that you are covered for everything possible, maybe even look at lowering your deductible for a time. (They are called accidents and it’s not a question of “if,” but “when.”)

Licensing Time:

Again, there’s a graduated system in place.

For 16 years to 16 years, 6 months:

  • Hold valid permit for at least 12 months,
  • Complete drive time log sheets with 50-hours of driving time (at least 10-hours at night), and
  • Complete behind the wheel training with driver education instructor.

* If you are not taking the driving test with a drivers education instructor, you MUST make a drive test appointment (no walk-ins allowed for this).

For 16 years, 6 months to 17 years:

  • Hold valid permit for at least 12-months,
  • Complete drive time log sheets with 50-hours of driving time (at least 10-hours at night), and
  • Same as above, if you are not taking the drivers test with an instructor you MUST make an appointment.

The Rules

When I first looked over the rules, I thought of how restrictive they are; however, after being in the car with my teen, I’m okay with letting him learn to really drive before adding in the distractions.

  • No driving between midnight and 5 a.m. the first year of licensing, unless
    • you are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian;
    • driving to or from a school activity that the school does not provide transportation for (a signed statement from the school has to be provided);
    • driving to or from work (signed statement from employer);
    • have a medical emergency
    • or are an emancipated minor.
  • During the first six months, only passengers 21 and older can ride with your teen; then the next 6 months ONE passenger under 21 (siblings can ride with your teen at any time! Woot woot!)
  • Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal for all people under 18. It’s a terrible habit for adults that can hopefully be stopped early.
  • All passengers must wear their seat belt.

Okay! That’s it! Yep, pretty overwhelming sometimes. It’s a big step towards more independence and it’s an exciting and terrifying one. Through the whole thing, I took a lot (I mean A LOT) of deep breaths while counting to 10 in my head. Patience, patience, patience (and maybe a bottle of wine, but not in the car! ha!) are so important. When you have someone who is learning the “rules of the road,” keep in mind that they are watching YOU and everything that you do; they’re learning from you, the good and the bad, so try to make sure it’s mostly good.

What tips do you have for parents of new drivers?

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Rhonda is a Northern Colorado native and a momma to 5 wild things. With kiddos ranging from senior in high school to first year of preschool, they keep her out of trouble (mostly). Having a husband who makes her laugh every day is her secret to keeping it all “together”. In her spare time, Rhonda enjoys volunteering, reading, and falling asleep on the couch. For an escape from the household, she works very part time for UCHealth, and she really enjoys the people it has brought into her life. As a mom to kids in different seasons, Rhonda loves to see what’s next and can’t wait to share in that journey with you!


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