Impaired-driving fatalities accounted for over 36% of Colorado traffic deaths last year according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Every person metabolizes alcohol at different rates. This means that one person can have one drink and feel impaired while another consumes three before feeling alcohol’s varied effects. Unfortunately, this leads to a false sense of sobriety.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge with serious ramifications. Minors charged with underage DUI face Colorado’s zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and drug use. While Colorado’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08% for all drivers, minors can be charged for as little as .02%. If you have been pulled over for underage DUI, you need help from a criminal defense attorney with expertise in Colorado’s underage DUI laws to aid in your case.

Zero Tolerance for Underage DUI

Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1301 (2)(d)(I) states:

“It is a class A traffic infraction for any person under twenty-one years of age to drive a motor vehicle or vehicle when the person’s BAC, as shown by analysis of the person’s breath, is at least 0.02 but not more than 0.05 at the time of driving or within two hours after driving.”

Blood Alcohol Concentration

Drivers under age 21 cited for operating vehicles while impaired may face one of three charges dependent on their blood alcohol concentration. BAC is tested using a breathalyzer and by optional field sobriety tests.

If a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. You can refuse to submit to the field sobriety test, but not to a breath, blood, or urine analysis. You can lose your driver’s license for up to one year if you do not submit to a chemical analysis.

The three charges you could face for driving while intoxicated while under the age of 21 are:

  • Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD): BAC of 0.02% to 0.05%
  • Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI): BAC of more than 0.05% to less than 0.08%
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): BAC of 0.08% or greater

The penalties for UDD increase with increased BAC, but the driver will be charged as a minor. The penalties for DWAI and DUI are the same whether you are a minor or an adult.

Underage Drinking and Driving Penalties

Since Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking, any alcohol consumption, even from cold medicine to an alcohol-laden special occasion dessert, is considered a strict liability offense and you could lose your license. Also, any first-time offender, whether UDD, DWAI, or DUI, will be required to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle.

First UDD or “Baby DUI”

Your first UDD offense is a Class A traffic infraction—a civil, not a criminal, violation. If convicted, you can lose your driver’s license for up to three months. After one month, you can apply to have a “red” probationary license, allowing you to drive to and from work and school.

Second UDD

Your second UDD is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor can mean a three-month jail term—up to 364 days. You can also be fined $250 to $1,000. Your driver’s license can be revoked for up to six months.

Third UDD or More

Your third UDD or any subsequent UDD is also a Class 2 misdemeanor, but the penalties are more severe as your driver’s license can be revoked for up to one year. The jail term and fines remain the same.

Underage DWAI Penalties

You are considered DWAI if your BAC is .05% to .08% under Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1301 (1)(g). This is different from a DUI as the penalties are less severe, although still a Class 2 misdemeanor.

First DWAI

  • Jail time: 2 days to 6 months
  • Fine: $200 to $500
  • Community service: 24 to 48 hours
  • DMV points: 8

Second DWAI

  • Jail time: 10 days mandatory to one year
  • Fine: $600 to $1,500
  • Community service: 48 to 120 hours
  • License revocation: one year
  • DMV points: 8

Third DWAI

  • Jail time: 60 days mandatory to one year
  • Fine: $600 to $1,500
  • Community service: 48 to 120 hours
  • License revocation: two years
  • DMV points: 8

Underage DUI “per se” Penalties

DUI “per se” means that once you are shown to have a BAC of .08 or higher, you will be considered intoxicated by law and the DUI does not have to be further proven. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for the first three DUIs per se. Persistent drunk drivers can be charged with a Class 4 felony.

First DUI

  • Jail time: 5 days to one year
  • Fine: up to $1,000
  • Community service: up to 96 hours
  • License revocation: nine months
  • Alcohol education classes

Enhanced penalties apply for a BAC percentage of .15 and above. Even if you are a first-time offender, you will be classified as a Colorado persistent drunk driver, and if convicted, sentenced as a repeat-DUI offender.

Second DUI

  • Jail time: 10 days to one year
  • Fine: $600 to $1,500
  • Community service: 48 to 120 hours
  • License revocation: up to one year
  • Alcohol education classes: mandatory
  • Ignition interlock: 2 years after license reinstatement

Third DUI

  • Jail time: 60 days to one year
  • Fine: $600 to $1,500
  • Community service: 48 to 120 hours
  • License revocation: two years
  • Alcohol education classes: mandatory
  • Ignition interlock: 2 years after license reinstatement

Felony DUI

  • Jail time: 2 to 6 years
  • Fine: $2,000 to $500,000
  • Mandatory parole: three years

Underage DUI Due Diligence

Whether you are someone who has been charged with underage DUI or someone who has been the victim of an underage DUI driver and is considering legal action, contacting an experienced lawyer specializing in underage DUI cases is your first remedy. Parents of an underage driver facing a DUI charge also need to be forearmed with accurate information to realize what their minor is facing when going to court.

Reach out today to schedule a free case review.

Categories: DUI