Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Colorado
Coloradans who drive plug-in electric cars, hybrids, or any other fuel-efficient vehicles, can get simplified green vehicle laws in the content below. Of course, CO's general traffic laws apply to all drivers.
Regulations are ever-evolving, so its best to also consult your local Division of Motor Vehicles branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center. For more on money-saving perks for eco-friendly residents, check out our Colorado Green Driver Incentives page.
Colorado Green Vehicle Registration and Emissions
The State requires all vehicles (fuel efficient and otherwise) operating on Colorado's public roads to be registered through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, certain vehicles such as electric cars are exempt from the emissions test requirement for CO vehicle registration and registration renewal. Consult our Green Driver Incentives page and Colorado Smog and Emissions Testing page for more.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Registration
If you own an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), you must report the type of fuel it uses when you register the AFV through the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles. You must also report whether your vehicle uses one or more alternative fuels. On the state forms you'll complete during the vehicle registration process, look for the area that allows you to determine whether your vehicle runs on one or more of the following fuel types:
- Natural gas.
CO Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Tax
You'll pay an excise tax if you use the following types of alternative fuels to operate your vehicle:
- Compressed natural gas (CNG).
- Liquefied natural gas (LNG).
- Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Consult the Alternative Fuels Data Center for a table of the fees per gallon per year. Look under the section on alternative fuel and advanced vehicle tax.
Additionally, if you own a plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV), you must display a PHEV registration decal in order to plug into public recharging stations. The decal costs $50 annually. There are two ways to pay this Plug-in Electric Fee to obtain your decal:
- State letters—The State might have already sent you a letter requesting info on the electric fuel type used by your vehicle. Once you return your letter and the State updates your vehicle's plug-in electric status in its database, you'll receive a decal in the mail. Then, your county will collect your $50 fee the next time you register your vehicle at a local branch.
- Vehicle registration—If you didn't receive the letter mentioned above and you are registering your PEV in Colorado for the first time, expect to pay the $50 Plug-in Electric Fee when you visit the CO Division of Motor Vehicles.
Affix your Electric Vehicle Decal to the interior upper right corner (passenger side) of the front windshield. For specifics on the decal, who the fees benefit, what to do when changing ownership, and more, refer to this for plug-in electric motor vehicles and House Bill 13-1110.
CO Roadway Access Laws for Low-Speed Electric Vehicles (EVs)
What is a Low-Speed Electric Vehicle (EV)?
Colorado defines a low-speed electric vehicle (EV) as one that is self propelled and:
- Uses electricity as its primary propulsion method.
- Bears at least three wheels in contact with the ground.
- Doesn't use handlebars for steering.
- Displays a vehicle identification number (VIN).
- Meets the manufacturer requirements spelled out in the Code of Regulations (Title 49, Section 565).
Where You Can Operate Your Low-Speed Electric Vehicle
Colorado drivers with low-speed EVs can take them on roadways with a speed limit of up to 40 MPH only if:
- The lane is at least 11 feet wide.
- There are at least two or more lanes going either direction.
- Operating your low-speed EV poses no substantial safety risk as determined by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
If the roadway doesn't meet all three conditions, you can only operate your low-speed electric vehicle on roadways bearing a speed limit of
35 MPH or less. However, you can still cross roadways that have a speed limit greater than 35 MPH. Furthermore, you cannot operate your low-speed EV on a limited-access highway. Be aware that the State disallows the sale (or offer to sell) low-speed EVs that
Class-B Low-Speed Electric Vehicles
Colorado defines a Class-B low-speed electric vehicle as an EV that can go 25 MPH to 45 MPH. The laws Class-B EVs vary slightly than those listed above.
- You can only operate a Class-B low-speed EV on roadways with a speed limit of 45 MPH or less.
- You may only directly cross a roadway that has a speed limit greater than 45 MPH.
- You cannot operate your Class-B low-speed EV on a limited-access highway.
For more on low-speed EV access to CO roadways, consult the Colorado Revised Statutes 12-6-120, 42-1-102, 42-4-109.5, 42-4-109.6).
Additional Laws for Colorado Alternative Fuel Producers
The AFDC covers the following info with more detail for those interested in generating (and/or reselling) their own fuel:
- Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Multi-Unit Dwelling Installations and Access
- Alternative Fuel Resale and Generation Regulations