In Colorado, the penalties for Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) are severe. The specific penalties for alcohol-related driving charges, however, are different depending on a number of factors. Those factors include the driver’s blood-alcohol content (“BAC”) and age. In this article, we look at the differences in underage DUI laws.
The biggest difference is that for drivers under 21 the cutoff for a minimum BAC that can get them into trouble is .02 (the cutoff for adults, Driving While Ability Impaired (“DWAI”), is .05). That means that if a person is under 21 and has a BAC of between .02 and .05, he/she can still get in trouble even though a person over 21 with that same BAC would not.
Underage drivers with a BAC between .02 and .05 will be charged with Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD). UDD is a class A traffic infraction. That means that the person could be ordered to pay a fine ranging from $15 to $100. Additionally, the law allows the court the discretion to order up to 24 hours of community service. The court can also order the person to submit to and complete an alcohol evaluation and assessment and to complete any education or therapy that is recommended by the evaluation.
A second offense of UDD is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor. A person convicted of a class 2 traffic misdemeanor faces a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, or $150 fine, or both. The maximum sentence in 90 days in jail, or $300 fine, or both. Importantly, the court has discretion to suspend jail sentences in favor or probation or to order jail alternatives like work release or in-home detention. An underage DUI attorney can negotiate terms of probation or jail alternatives to help ensure a fair sentence.
If a driver under 21 has a BAC of .05 or greater, then he/she will be charged with the same offense that a driver over 21 would be: either DWAI or DUI. The penalties will largely be the same as they would for adults with some minor exceptions. One example of such an exemption is the ability to reinstate a license early. Adults who have their licenses revoked on a first-time DUI are generally able to reinstate their licenses early (after 1 month of suspension) with an “interlock ignition device.” For drivers under 21, however, early reinstatement through installation of the interlock is not available. Instead, the person must serve the full suspension.
Ultimately, if you are under 21 and have been arrested for an alcohol-related driving offense, you should consult with an underage DUI attorney immediately. At CGH, we have an underage DUI attorney ready to meet with you to discuss your case and help you prepare your defense. Don’t wait to call us.