A Guide to Colorado Motorcycle Laws

McDivitt Law Firm is here to make sure that you understand the motorcycle laws in Colorado 

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), all motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws as other drivers on the road. Because motorcycle laws vary from state to state, make sure you’re aware of Colorado motorcycle laws so you can ride safely and legally. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, or Pueblo, you need to know that McDivitt Law Firm is on your side. Motorcycle accidents in Colorado are especially devastating on interstates and mountain roads and we want all motorcycle riders to be safe at all times.

Your Guide to Colorado Motorcycle Laws

Colorado has specific motorcycle laws to keep riders and motorists safe. Motorcycles are significantly more dangerous than regular cars and carry a high risk of injury during automotive accidents. Additionally, motorcycle fatalities during car crashes, traffic accidents, or auto collisions are much higher than regular vehicles. Here’s everything you need to know about motorcycle laws in Colorado:


Obtaining a Colorado Motorcycle License

In order to ride a motorcycle in Colorado, you must have the proper endorsement on your driver’s license. If you do not have this endorsement, you could be facing heavy fines when pulled over. Additionally, your insurance will not cover any motorcycle accidents, potentially leaving you on the hook for high medical bills or expensive repair costs in the event that something happens. This can be obtained at a Colorado DMV. This is not a separate license but is rather an endorsement showing that you have completed the necessary requirements to ride a motorcycle safely. Do your part to earn a motorcycle license endorsement in Colorado to increase your motorcycle safety knowledge and protect yourself in the event of an accident. Motorcycle riders in Denver, Aurora, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs all need to take this step seriously.

The general motorcycle endorsement “M” qualifies you to ride a 2- or 3-wheel motorcycle. Scooters and other low-power vehicles under 50cc or vehicles that have a speed capacity of less than 40mph do not qualify as motorcycles in Colorado. However, you must have at least a basic driver’s license to operate them. Remember that these restrictions aren’t random. They are put in place to lower the chances of severe auto accidents. By observing the legal requirements to own and drive a motorcycle, you prevent yourself from having to deal with the headaches of motorcycle liability lawsuits if you get into an accident.

In order to obtain a motorcycle license in Colorado:

  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You must pass a written examination at the local driver’s license office.
  • You must complete an on-bike skills test.

Since 1973, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has set internationally recognized standards of excellence in motorcycle rider education and motorcycle safety training. CDOT administers an MSF-approved program called MOST: Motorcycle Operator Safety Training. According to CDOT, this is the best option for getting a motorcycle endorsement. Riders who pass a MOST class can simply take their completion card to a state driver’s license office to get an endorsement with no further testing needed.

Understanding Colorado Helmet Laws

Although helmets are proven to save lives, riders age 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, if the motorcycle operator or passengers are under age 18, they must wear DOT-approved helmets. This is important because the risk of injury on a motorcycle is higher, and automotive accidents involving motorcycles can have serious injuries ranging from brain trauma, broken bones, a fractured skull, limb injuries that require amputation, and death.

In 2006, 65% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws, compared with only 13% in states with all-rider helmet laws. (NHTSA, 2007). In order to avoid serious motorcycle accidents, all motorcyclists should wear a helmet at all times when riding.

Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles in Colorado

In Colorado, not only are you required to have insurance, but you are also required to show proof of insurance. If you’re caught riding a motorcycle without insurance, the penalties you could face include:

First Offense

  • $500 fine (minimum)
  • Four points on driving record
  • Possible suspension of license

Second Offense

  • $1,000 fine (minimum)
  • Four-month suspension of license

Third Offense

  • $1,000 fine (minimum)
  • Community service requirement
  • Eight-month suspension of license

Lane Splitting in Colorado

Passing or overtaking a vehicle in the same lane is illegal in Colorado; no lane sharing or splitting with cars. However, motorcycles can share a lane or “co-ride” with one other motorcycle. As a rider, you cannot attach your motorcycle to another vehicle, i.e. grab onto another motorcycle or vehicle (i.e. towing). This is especially important to remember when driving in cities like Colorado Springs, Littleton, Centennial, and Denver. Narrower streets and blind turns mean that this behavior is especially dangerous.

Colorado Motorcycle Laws & Noise

In Colorado, motorcycle safety includes rules governing how loud your motorcycle can be. According to AAA, Colorado law states that any motorcycle manufactured on or after July 1, 1971, and before January 1, 1973, may not exceed a noise level of 88 dBA at 50 feet. Any motorcycle manufactured after January 1, 1973 may not exceed 86 dBA.

Lighting Your Motorcycle in Colorado

Riders are allowed to use their headlights during the day but it is not required. They are, however, required to be turned on at night, along with the taillights. Your headlight must be a white light and it must project at least 500 feet in front of the motorcycle. Colorado prohibits additional vehicle lighting, including neon under glow, red, blue, or green colored lights.

Riding Passenger on a Motorcycle

How old do you have to be to ride on the back of a motorcycle? In Colorado, there is no age limit for passengers. If you have a passenger, you must have them ride in a sidecar, in an enclosed cab, or have footrests for them on the back of the bike. They must utilize footrests and if they are under the age of 18, they must wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Following all of these laws properly is important in keeping yourself, your motorcycle passenger, and other drivers safe. If you are ever injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to have an experienced Colorado accident attorney on your side. The dangerous nature of motorcycles means that insurance companies will work hard to deny any motorcycle claims filed.

This can be a problem because recovering from a motorcycle auto accident injury can be a difficult process. These auto accidents can mean expensive hospital bills, along with potential costs for trauma counseling, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and the risk of potential work disability. For these reasons, it’s important to make sure that your insurance payout is enough to cover all the costs of recovery.

McDivitt Law Firm has been helping motorcycle accident clients in Colorado for 40 years. Our team of caring and affordable accident attorneys are here to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Denver, Pueblo, Aurora, or Colorado Springs, McDivitt Law Firm is here to help you. We won’t let reckless drivers get away with their actions and we certainly won’t allow insurance companies to pay you the bare minimum for your injuries and losses. McDivitt Law Firm knows that riding a motorcycle is a fun hobby, but that it also comes with its own dangers. Count on McDivitt Law Firm to keep you aware of Colorado motorcycle laws and your rights after an accident.