Underage Drinking and Driving in Colorado “Baby DUIs”

Colorado has almost a zero tolerance law regarding teen drinking and driving. The legal maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.02% for drivers under 21. It is also illegal for persons under 21 to purchase or possess alcoholic beverages and it is illegal for those under age 21 to drink, buy, attempt to buy, possess or transport alcohol.

This is no joke – I am a criminal defense lawyer – but I am also a parent – please read this page carefully. … parent or child.

Alcohol-related auto crashes are one of the leading causes of death in Colorado and teens die every year from alcohol poisoning. We need our teens to be safe and alcohol-free.

Underage drinking and driving is a common charge in Colorado Courts and can carry serious consequences. In Colorado, underage drinking and driving (Underage Drinking and Driving) is charged when a person under 21 years of age has a blood alcohol content (BAC)over a .02 up to a .05 .

Underage Drinking and Driving is a class A traffic infraction for the first offense in Colorado. Additional penalties include mandatory fines, public service and alcohol treatment. A second conviction for Underage Drinking and Driving becomes a Class 2 Traffic Misdemeanor and carries even more serous penalties.

Although the presumptive legal BAC limit for adults is a .05, underage drivers face Underage Drinking and Driving penalties at this lower threshold. See Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301 (2)(a.5)(1).

“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 of driving or within two hours after driving.”

In addition to penalties commonly associated with a Class Traffic infraction, person’s convicted of Underage Drinking and Driving also face additional consequences of up to 24 hours of community service/useful public service (UPS) and an alcohol evaluation or alcohol assessment and treatment at the person’s own expense.

There are also Colorado DMV – Drivers’ License consequences for a minor driver with an Underage Drinking and Driving conviction. On a first conviction for a Underage Drinking and Driving offense a minor driver faces a three month license suspension.

A minor driver, however, may request a probationary license after the first 30 days, after which the minor driver must keep the probationary license for an additional two months. (i.e. the suspension and revocation together must equal a total of three months.) A probationary license is given at the discretion of the DMV hearing officer and is not an automatic condition of the revocation. See C.R.S 42-2-125.* ( Law is reprinted below)

On a second offense for Underage Drinking and Driving, a minor driver faces a six month driver’s license revocation. On a third or subsequent offense for underage drinking and driving a minor driver faces a one year driver’s license revocation.

Also a minor driver under 21 years of age can also face traditional DUI and DWAI charges if their BAC (blood alcohol content) is over .05. If a minor driver is charged with a DUI or DWAI they face a one year license revocation for the first offense, and additional penalties in the criminal case.

If you, or your child has been charged with a DWAI, DUI, Underage Drinking and Driving these charges are life changing and can have lasting repercussions on your or your child’s future. It can affect your childs right to drive, their traffic and criminal record, insurance rates, and in themost serious cases, jail time.

A Colorado DUI lawyer can help with the DMV and driver’s license considerations as well as defend you or your child in the criminal case. If you would like to speak to an experienced Denver Colorado Drunk Driving Attorney feel free to contact us via e-mail or call us at 303-627-7777. – or, in emergencies ( feel free ) cell 720-220-2277.

Minors face different suspensions. For example, If a minor (under 21) is convicted of Underage Drinking and Driving (a BAC .02 to .05) he will face a 3 month revocation. However, if he is convicted of a DWAI/DUI a one year revocation will be imposed. If the minor has a BAC between .05 and .08 the DMV will revoke the license for 3 months. The minor is not eligible for a restricted privileges after 30 days like adults. A second revocation for this is 6 months, and a third or greater is one year.

All of this information is free and online on the Colorado DMV Website – click here.

Colorado’s Social Host Laws

Under Colorado’s “Social Host” law, the parent or “host” could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. Continue reading to learn more about Colorado’s teen driving laws and the consequences for violating them.

Colorado Teen Driving Laws and Enforcement

Under Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing program, a number of restrictions on teen driving apply. Drivers under the age of 18, who have not had a driver’s license for more than six months, cannot transport passengers under the age of 21. The only exceptions to this rule are in the cases of emergencies and if the passengers are siblings. In addition, drivers under the age of 18

  • Cannot have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in the car at a time until the driver holds a valid driver’s license for one full year
  • Cannot have more than one passenger in the front seat
  • Cannot have more passengers in the car than seatbelts
  • Cannot drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless the driver’s license has been effective for one full year

A driver under the age of 18 may drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. if accompanied by apparent or guardian. He may also driver between these hours unaccompanied if:

  • He is driving from school or a school-authorized activity
  • There is a medical emergency
  • He is driving to or from work with a signed statement from the employer
  • The driver is emancipated

All teen drivers must carry proof of insurance at all times, obey all traffic laws, and should not drink and drive, ever.

If the driver violates any of the above restrictions he will lose his license for a set amount of time to be determined by the courts. He will also have to perform community service, pay fines, lose points on his license, and insurance carriers will choose not to cover you, which means, you will not be allowed to drive on Colorado roads, period.

Myths About Drinking and Driving

One drink doesn’t affect driving. False. Each 0.02% increase in BAC places 16 to 20 year-old drivers at an increasingly greater risk for a crash. The crash rate of young drivers is substantially higher than those of older groups, even at low and moderate BACs.

Beer and Wine are “Safer” Than Hard Liquor

False.One serving of each has the same amount of alcohol and has the same effects on the body and brain.

One drink equals:

  • 12-ounce can of beer = 1 drink
  • 5-ounce glass of wine = 1 drink
  • 1-ounce of hard liquor = 1 drink
Cold Showers, Fresh air or hot Coffee Help Sober you up

False. Time is the only cure. It takes most people over an hour to eliminate a beer or a glass of wine — even longer for teens.

All you do when you give a drowsy drunk a cup of coffee is create a wide-awake drunk.

Everyone Reacts to Alcohol in the Same way

False. There are many factors that affect reaction to alcohol, including weight, gender, physical makeup, age, illness, fatigue, etc.

42-2-125 – Mandatory Revocation of License and Permit
  1. The department shall immediately revoke the license or permit of any driver or minor driverupon receiving a record showing that such driver has:
    1. Been convicted of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault as described in sections 18-3-106 and 18-3-205, C.R.S., or of criminally negligent homicide as described in section 18-3-105, C.R.S., while driving a motor vehicle;
    2. Been convicted of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, as defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., or while an habitual user of such a controlled substance;
    3. Been convicted of any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used;
    4. Been convicted of failing to stop and render aid as required by sections 42-4-1601 and 42-4- 1602 in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or injury of another;
    5. Been convicted of perjury in the first or second degree or the making of a false affidavit or statement under oath to the department under any law relating to the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle;
    6. Been three times convicted of reckless driving of a motor vehicle for acts committed within a period of two years;
      1. Been twice convicted of any offense provided for in section 42-4-1301 (1) or (2) (a) for acts committed within a period of five years;
      2. In the case of a minor driver, been convicted of an offense under section 42-4-1301 (1) or (2)(a) committed while such driver was under twenty-one years of age;
      g.5 In the case of a minor driver, been convicted of an offense under section 42-4-1301 (2) (a.5) committed when such driver was under twenty-one years of age;
    7. Been determined to be mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction and for whom a court has entered, pursuant to part 3 or part 4 of article 14 of title 15, C.R.S., or section 27-10-109 (4) or 27-10-125, C.R.S., an order specifically finding that the mental incompetency is of such a degree that the person is incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle;
    8. Been convicted of any offense provided for in section 42-4-1301 (1) or (2) (a) and has two previous convictions of any of such offenses. The license of any driver shall be revoked for an indefinite period and shall only be reissued upon proof to the department that said driver has completed a level II alcohol and drug education and treatment program certified by the division of alcohol and drug abuse pursuant to section 42-4-1301 (10) and that said driver has demonstrated knowledge of the laws and driving ability through the regular motor vehicle testing process. In no event shall such license be reissued in less than two years.
    9. Been required to file and maintain proof of financial responsibility for the future as provided by section 42-4-1410 or article 7 of this title and who, at the time of a violation of any provision of this title, had not filed or was not maintaining such proof;
      1. Been convicted of any felony offense provided for in section 18-18-404, 18-18-405, or 18- 18-406, C.R.S., or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any said offense. For purposes of this paragraph (k), a person has been convicted when such person has been found guilty by a court or a jury, entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or received a deferred sentence for an offense.
      2. In the case of a minor driver, been convicted of or adjudicated for any offense provided for in section 18-18-404 (1) (b), 18-18-405 (2) (d) (I), or 18-18-406 (1), (3) (a) (I), or (4) (a) (I), C.R.S., or any comparable municipal charter or ordinance offense.
    10. Been found to have knowingly and willfully left the scene of an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle driven by the person;
    11. Been convicted of violating section 12-47-901 (1) (b) or (1) (c), C.R.S., or section 18-13-122 (2), C.R.S., or any counterpart municipal charter or ordinance offense to such sections;
    12. Been convicted of defacing property in violation of section 18-4-509 (2), C.R.S., or convicted of criminal mischief in violation of section 18-4-501, C.R.S., where the court finds that the underlying factual basis of the offense involves defacing property as described in section 18-4- 509 (2), C.R.S., or any counterpart municipal charter or ordinance offense to either of said sections.
  2. The period of revocation based on paragraphs (b), (c), and (k) of subsection (1) of this section shall be one year; except that any violation involving a commercial motor vehicle transporting hazardous materials as defined under section 42-2-402 (7) shall result in a revocation period of three years.
    2.3 The period of revocation under subparagraph (I) of paragraph (g) of subsection (1) of this section shall be for not less than one year.
    2.4 After the expiration of the period of revocation pursuant to this section and any subsequently imposed periods of revocation, any person whose license is revoked under subparagraph (I) of paragraph (g) or paragraph (i) of subsection (1) of this section shall be required to have a restricted license pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2-132.5.
    2.5 The period of revocation under paragraph (g.5) of subsection (1) of this section for a person who is less than twenty-one years of age at the time of the offense and who is convicted of driving with an alcohol content of at least 0.02 but not more than 0.05 under section 42-4-1301 (2) (a.5) is as follows:
    1. Except as provided in subsection (2.7) of this section, three months for a first offense;
    2. Six months for a second offense;
    3. One year for a third or subsequent offense.
    1. A person whose license is revoked for a first offense under paragraph (g.5) of subsection (1) of this section may request that, in lieu of the three-month revocation, the person’s license be revoked for a period of not less than thirty days, to be followed by a suspension period of such length that the total period of revocation and suspension equals three months. If the hearing officer approves such request, the hearing officer may grant such person a probationary license that may be used only for the reasons provided in section 42-2-127 (14) (a). (b) The hearing to consider a request under paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.7) may be held at the same time as the hearing held under subsection (4) of this section; except that a probationary license may not become effective until at least thirty days have elapsed since the beginning of the revocation period.
  3. Upon revoking the license of any person as required by this section, the department shall immediately notify the licensee as provided in section 42-2-119 (2). Where a minor driver’s license is revoked under paragraph (k) (II), (m), or (n) of subsection (1) of this section, such revocation shall not run concurrently with any previous or subsequent suspension, revocation, cancellation, or denial that is provided for by law.
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