Underage Drinking and Driving
The drinking age in Colorado is 21, and the state has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers who get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. The penalties for underage drinking and driving (UDD) are largely dependent upon the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). If the BAC is between 0.02% and 0.05%, an underage driver can be convicted of UDD. If the driver's BAC was over 0.05%, they will be prosecuted the same as adults; a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08% will likely result in a charge of driving while ability impaired (DWAI), and a BAC of 0.08% or higher will result in a standard DUI charge.
What are the consequences for UDD in Colorado?
Under Colorado's zero tolerance laws, underage drivers (including juveniles) charged with their first offense for UDD face criminal penalties that can include up to $100 in fines; court costs and surcharges; up to 24 hours of useful public service; an alcohol or drug evaluation; completion of alcohol and drug education and treatment program; 4 DMV points against their license; and a three-month driver's license suspension.
A first UDD is a Class A traffic infraction. After a one-month suspension of driving privileges, underage drivers may be eligible for a probationary license for the remaining two months of the suspension. Often referred to as a "red license," the probationary license allows a motorist to commute to and from school and work.
The punishments for UDD increase with each successive offense. A second offense UDD is classified as a Class 2 traffic misdemeanor, and is punishable by between 10 and 90 days in jail; up to $300 in fines; court costs and surcharges; up to 24 hours of community service; a substance abuse evaluation; completion of a substance abuse treatment program; 4 DMV points against their license; and a six-month license suspension. A third or subsequent UDD offender faces the same penalties set forth above, but the suspension period can be up to 1 year.
In addition to the criminal ramifications, an arrest and conviction for UDD can have a negative effect a teenager's college admission and employment opportunities. If the teen is involved in sports or school clubs, they may lost the ability to participate in those programs.
What if my BAC was over 0.05%?
As mentioned above, underage drivers are prosecuted the same as adults when their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.05%. A BAC between 0.05% and 0.08% could result in a charge of driving while ability impaired (DWAI), which is punishable by between 2 and 180 days in jail; up to $500 in fines; between 24 and 48 hours community service; and 8 points against their license. A BAC of 0.08% or higher can result in a charge of DUI per se, punishable by between 5 days to 1 year in jail; up to $1,000 in fines; between 48 and 96 hours of community service; and 12 DMV points assessed against their license.
How can a DUI attorney help me?
Your DUI lawyer acts as your guide through the criminal justice system, your advocate to the district attorney and the judge in your case, and helps to identify any legal issues or defenses in order to get you the best outcome possible. Hiring a lawyer experienced in UDD defense can assist you to:
- Keep your driver's license;
- Reduce or eliminate potential jail time;
- Obtain a deferred sentence (or even sometimes plea to a non-alcohol related charge);
- Reduce fines;
- Reduce required hours of public service.
There are any number of issues that a DUI attorney can identify from reviewing the police reports and other discovery in your case. For example, if the police did not have a proper reason to initiate a traffic stop in the first place, or failed to administer roadside sobriety tests correctly, it may be possible to prevent that evidence from being presented to a jury at your trial. If the arresting officer failed to administer a blood or breath test within the required time limits, it may be possible to suppress the test results. It may be possible, in some situations, to defeat a UDD charge completely by identifying one of these issues.
To explore the outcomes of your individual case, you should contact a skilled and accomplished UDD attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law offer free consultations and case evaluations and would be pleased to confer with you regarding the circumstances of your case.
For a free case evaluation, please call attorney Patterson Weaver today and discuss the options available in your individual case. The prosecution will certainly have an attorney pursuing their interests, call an experienced lawyer today to protect and pursue your best interests.