An Overview Of Motorcycle Laws In Colorado

All motorcyclists and other drivers are required to comply with standard traffic laws — like those regarding stopping at red lights and complying with speed limits. Additionally, however, there are some specific Colorado laws that riders must know and follow in order to avoid an infraction and ride safely and legally in the state.

If you've been involved in an accident and you have any questions about how motorcycle laws can affect your ability to recover damages, the lawyers at the Law Office of James H. Guest, L.L.C., have answers. We have more than 27 years of experience and have successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases throughout Denver and the state. We know your rights and will fight for what you deserve after a crash.

What Riders Need to Know about Colorado Motorcycle Laws 1

Riding Laws

Motorcyclists are permitted to "co-ride" in Colorado, which means that they can ride alongside one other motorcyclist (only one) within the same lane of traffic. Riders are prohibited, however, from lane sharing or lane splitting with passenger vehicles, which involves trying to pass these vehicles within the same lane or by riding along the lane marker. Riders are also prohibited from grabbing onto other motorcycles or vehicles while riding, which may be referred to as "clinging" or "towing."

Required Protective Gear

All riders and motorcycle passengers in Colorado are required by law to wear some form of eye protection, which can include the visor of a helmet, plastic safety glasses, eyeglasses made from safety glass, and goggles. Windshields of motorcycles are not considered to be eye protection.

In terms of helmets, motorcycle riders and passengers who are younger than 18 years old are legally required to wear DOT-approved helmets. Riders and passengers who are 18 or over, however, are not required by law to wear safety helmets.

It should be noted here that wearing a DOT-approved helmet can reduce riders' risk of sustaining fatal or catastrophic head injuries by about 40 percent. 2

Passenger Laws

If a motorcyclist is carrying a passenger, that passenger must be seated either behind the rider (on the seat) or in a sidecar. It is illegal for passengers to be seated in front of riders. Additionally, motorcycles carrying passengers must be equipped with footrests, and passengers are legally required to use these footrests when riding (as long as they are not in a sidecar).

Other Laws

Other noteworthy Colorado motorcycle laws that riders should be aware of are — but are not limited to — the following:

  • There are not handlebar height restrictions for motorcycles or prohibitions against helmet speakers in Colorado.
  • Motorcycles are required to have a left and right mirror, as well as a muffler.
  • The state insurance requirements for riders minimum liability coverage is $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries and $15,000 per accident for property damage.

Compensation Is Not Lost Even If The Law Was Broken

While many riders are content to follow Colorado motorcycle laws, some choose to ignore certain laws, especially those concerning protective gear. It's important to know that the decision to not follow the law can have an impact on a compensation claim after a motorcycle accident.

As is the case in a few other states, Colorado is a comparative negligence state. This means that fault in an accident is divided between all applicable parties and designated as a percentage of fault. If a rider is not wearing a helmet or acted in a careless or reckless manner leading up to a crash, then the rider may be assigned a higher percentage of fault than if they had followed the law. This is important to keep in mind because a rider's total compensation is reduced by his or her percentage of fault.

As long as the rider's percentage of fault is not higher than the other at-fault parties, a rider may still receive some portion of compensation.

Have Questions About The Law Or Your Rights?

Riding motorcycles in Colorado is an activity many people enjoy, but it can easily turn devastating because of an accident. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a crash and you have questions about the law or your right to compensation, turn to the skilled and compassionate attorneys at the Law Office of James H. Guest, L.L.C. We can answer your questions and will personally handle all legal matters for you if you wish to retain our services.

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our Denver office at 303-292-2992. There is no fee for our services if there is no recovery in your case.


1: According to the Colorado Department of Transportation

2: According to a 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

(NHTSA)