My sister just passed her driver's test. According to the DMV, her license is being processed and will be mailed to her, but they do not issue temporary licenses. In the meantime, she may need to drive.

Can she legally do so, or must she wait until she has the license card?

  • 2
    Unless she is in a necessity, she could be found by a court to have to pay fines for driving without a license. Even in a necessity, unless very clear and obvious, may cite them.
    – kisspuska
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 0:49
  • 5
    According to every findable DMV site that address the question plus a number of other non DMV sites, Colorado does issue temporary licenses. So there's some information missing in the question (was the exam administered by the DMV, or an instructor?)
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 1:19
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    I have had a temporary license issued by Colorado in the past, so I find the premise a bit confusing.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 2:22
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    It's different in the UK. When you pass your test, the examiner gives you a piece of paper, and that proves you are allowed to drive. I drove myself back from the test centre after passing, with no other people in the car with me.
    – Neil
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 14:32
  • 1
    "Is it legal" isn't enough to ask. In most countries, driving without the license (permission to drive) is a very serious offence, while driving with your driving license (piece of paper showing you have permission to drive) is a very minor offence. So someone needs to answer whether she has a license to drive (but not the paper proving it), or not. It's likely illegal to drive, but the consequences could be hugely different depending on the exact Colorado laws.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


No, she cannot

42-2-101(3), C.R.S. provides:

“No person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has in his or her immediate possession a current driver’s or minor driver’s license or an instruction permit issued by the department under this article.”

"(5) No person who has been issued a currently valid driver's or minor driver's license or an instruction permit shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state without having such license or permit in such person's immediate possession."

The law requires you to carry your license. If your sister only has an instruction permit in her possession, she must operate under its rules until she is in possession of her permanent license.

Just in case people think "highway" means a high-speed roadway, the CRS defines highway:

"Highway" means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel or the entire width of every way declared to be a public highway by any law of this state.

  • 7
    While this is correct, here in Germany it's two different things to drive without having your physical licence on you vs driving without having the permission to drive. I'm pretty sure our law says the same as above mentioned, but the fine for "forgot licence at home or lost it" is just about $10, while the punishment for "driving without having a valid permission to drive" is much more severe and can even lead to jail. I'm pretty sure it's similar in the US. However, she just did the licence, so it might not officially be valid yet, as the issue date might be the date they print the licence.
    – kopaka
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 12:35
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    In the UK there is no requirement to carry your physical licence document, but if a police officer asks to see it you must produce it at a police station (of your choice, anywhere in the UK, so you don't have to return from a long trip just to produce it) within a fixed time period (IIRC 5 days). Of course since there is a national licensing database in the UK, the police are unlikely to want to see something if they already know it exists!
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 13:32
  • Ig this raises a bigger question: Should a licensed driver be required to produce their license, or should identifying themselves be sufficient? If a cop asks for a license, should I be required to produce it, or should I just be required to identify myself so the officer can see that I am permitted to drive?
    – moonman239
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 14:00
  • 1
    @AzorAhai-him- yeah, it's not codified (as it seems to be in the UK) but if you're pulled over and you're missing license / registration / insurance card, it's common that you'll get a ticket, you'll show up at court, the judge will ask you to produce the document (and show that it was valid at the time you were pulled over), scold you a little, and dismiss the case. Same effect except for the need to show up at a particular court at a particular time.
    – hobbs
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 15:48
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    Our grand kids will look at paper driver licenses the same way we look at paper flight tickets, or paper bank checks. Oh wait, in the U.S.... ah well. Anyway, they'll ask us "but the police knew you were licensed, right?" Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 19:35

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