Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drunk driving, and the police can arrest people under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) as low as 0.02. These strict rules can have a long-term impact on young people’s lives.
What penalties do underage drivers face?
Underage drivers convicted of drunk driving are subject to strict penalties, even on a first arrest. For first offenses with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.05, often called underage drinking and driving (UDD), penalties are comparatively light. The consequences of underage drunk driving can include:
- License suspension—If convicted, penalties include a license revocation of three months.
- Fines —Convicted drivers may be required to pay a fine of $100.
- Community service time—The court may require underage drivers to perform up to 24 hours of public service after conviction.
For first offenses with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, drivers may face the same penalties as an adult charged with a DWAI. These penalties include:
- License suspension—If convicted, penalties include a license suspension of 9 months.
- Jail time—Penalties may include a jail sentence of between two and 180 days.
- Fines—The court may require drivers to pay fines of between $200 and $5000.
- Community service—The court may require drivers to perform between 24 and 48 hours of public service.
For arrests after a first conviction, penalties may be even more severe.
Underage college students may face further penalties.
Depending on their school’s code of conduct, college students convicted of drunk driving may face penalties on campus as well as in the courtroom. The University of Northern Colorado, for example, views alcohol-related offenses as a possible reason for suspension from the school’s athletics program. This can cause students to lose out on valuable extracurricular opportunities and limit their access to sports-related scholarships.
Because of the impact that drunk driving charges can have on young people, it is essential that those charged with underage drunk driving speak to an attorney. Through experienced legal counsel, they can protect both their rights and their future.