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. The last 15 years there has been a 50% decrease in teen related deaths since GDL laws went into effect 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/DMV/DriverEducation. 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.

A note about curfews

It is recommended to extend the hours of the mandatory curfew, as research shows that most teen crashes happen between 9 p.m. and midnight. Encourage your teen to drive no later than 9 p.m.