Posted on April 19, 2024

New Immigrants Could Apply for Driver’s Licenses Immediately Under Colorado Proposal

Andrew Kenney, CPR, April 2, 2024

New immigrants arriving in Colorado could apply for driver’s licenses immediately, instead of waiting two years — if a proposed bill passes the state legislature.

“It shouldn’t matter where you’re born,” said Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat sponsoring the measure. “It really matters whether you know the rules of the road.”

The state already allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, but they currently must live in the state for at least two years before they qualify. The proposed measure, SB24-182, would drop that and several other requirements.

Applicants still would have to pass a written test, vision screening and driving test and pay a fee, according to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. The bill advanced through the Senate Judiciary committee on a 4-1 vote Monday, drawing support from all the panel’s Democrats and from Republican Sen. Perry Will, while GOP Sen. Kevin Van Winkle was opposed.

Cosponsor Sen. Jeff Bridges, a Democrat, framed the bill as a safety measure. An estimated 40,000 new immigrants have passed through Denver. Many have stayed in the area and are driving for work and other purposes, regardless of whether they have a license.


In the House, the bill is sponsored by Rep. Tim Hernández, also a Democrat.

The bill would also allow immigrants to get driver’s licenses even if they haven’t filed a state tax return or gotten a social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), both of which are current requirements.


The measure also would loosen requirements for identification to get a license.

Currently, undocumented applicants must choose from a short list of identifying documents — they must have a passport, consular identification card or military identification document before they get a license in Colorado.

The bill would allow them to instead use:

  • A photocopy of a passport from their home country
  • A voter identification card from their home country
  • A driver’s license, instruction permit or identification card from their home country
  • Certain other identification cards issued by federal immigration, justice and health authorities

People could use expired versions of those documents, as long as they had expired sometime within the previous ten years


In 2013, a new law allowed the state to issue licenses and permits to unauthorized immigrants. {snip}