The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act (SB-251) authorizes the issuance of Colorado driver’s licenses and identification cards to Colorado residents who have temporary lawful presence in the U.S. and Colorado residents who cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S. Colorado residents impacted by the new law include nonimmigrant visa holders*, asylees, and applicants for permanent residence. The new law becomes effective on August 1, 2014.
Colorado driver’s licenses and identification cards issued under the new law will be restricted. The cards will include a display that says, “Not valid for Federal Identification, Voting, or Public Benefit Purposes,” and the cards will not be valid for air travel or I-9 purposes. This is a substantial change from Colorado’s previous law, which allowed nonimmigrant visa holders and others lawfully present in the U.S. to apply for an unrestricted driver’s license.
To apply for a driver’s license or identification card under the new law, applicants must schedule an appointment at one of five Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office locations. Because only five DMV offices in the state are processing these applications, appointments may take some time to obtain. We recommend that Colorado residents with temporary lawful presence schedule their DMV appointments as soon as possible. Please visit the Colorado DMV website for more information about the five DMV locations and what you will need to bring to your appointment.
The DMV has not yet published regulations implementing the new law, which means there are still many unknowns, especially related to how the new law will affect Colorado residents who cannot demonstrate lawful presence. Applicants suspected of current or past fraud may be referred to local District Attorneys for criminal investigation and prosecution, and applicants who have had their privilege to drive revoked or suspended in the past may also in some cases risk criminal charges. DMV regulations, once issued, may clarify the process and its risks for prospective applicants who cannot demonstrate lawful presence.
The new law does not change anything for U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of the U.S.
*Individuals in the U.S. on visitor visas are not eligible for a Colorado driver’s license or identification card.