Here’s a sobering truth: as many as one in four underage Coloradoans drank alcohol last month.
That’s a quarter of kids ranging in age from 12 to 20—many of whom are enrolled in middle school or high school.
It gets worse. Over 60 underage Coloradoans die alcohol-attributable deaths each year. And 16 fatal crashes involve an underage drunk driver. That’s nearly a quarter of all fatal crashes involving a driver under the age of 21.
Even if nobody gets hurt, underage drinking and driving can have ruinous long-term consequences. A DUI can follow your teen for the rest of his or her life. Car insurance rates will skyrocket. College admissions—and financial aid—could become troublesome. And many jobs won’t hire applicants with a DUI record.
Effective Legal Representation For Your Child
Boulder underage DUI lawyer Janene McCabe is a former public defender who has taken nearly 100 cases to trial. Now, she represents under-21 drivers who have been charged with impaired-driving offenses. Her dedicated practice of criminal defense gives her, and her clients, an advantage in fighting for dismissal of underage DUI charges.
Colorado’s “Zero Tolerance” Law
Colorado has almost zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving (UDD). Underage drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% to 0.05% face stiff administrative and DUI criminal penalties.
Administrative Penalties For Underage Drinking And Driving
Under-21 drivers who are found guilty of drinking and driving will have their licenses suspended. With each offense, the license suspension gets longer:
· First offense: 3 months
· Second offense: 6 months
· Third and subsequent offenses: 1 year
Each underage drinking and driving conviction will also put 4 points on a driver’s record.
Criminal Penalties For Underage Drinking And Driving
A first UDD offense is a Class A traffic infraction in Colorado. This carries no jail time, but the driver will have to pay a fine of $15-$100 and do up to 24 hours of community service.
All subsequent UDD offenses are class 2 traffic misdemeanors. This charge carries with it imprisonment of 10-90 days, a fine of $150-$300, and up to 24 hours of community service.
Underage Drivers Can Face Adult DUI/DWAI Charges
An under-21 driver with a BAC of 0.08% or above may face “adult” DUI or DWAI charges. A first-time DUI, DWAI, or DUI per se in Colorado is a misdemeanor crime. That means a first offender could be looking at:
· A 9-month license suspension
· Up to one year in jail
· Up to a $1,000 fine
· Up to 96 hours of community service
Underage Drivers and Marijuana
Just like with alcohol, you must be 21 or older to purchase, possess, and use recreational marijuana in Colorado. For medical marijuana, the legal age is 18.
Just like with alcohol, driving while high is illegal and unsafe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that using marijuana impairs critical functions for safe driving. That includes reaction time, cognitive performance, attention span, and decision-making.
The statistics agree: more than a third of adolescent DUIs in Colorado involve marijuana.
The “zero-tolerance” law also applies to marijuana, as well as any other drugs, whether they’re legal or not. A driver who’s under the age of 21 and has any amount of drugs in his or her system can be charged with DUI.
This means that if you take prescription medication for pain or an over-the-counter sleeping pill and then get behind the wheel, you could be charged with driving under the influence.
School Disciplinary Proceedings In Boulder
In addition to criminal charges, an underage driver who has been arrested for UDD, DUI, or DWAI may also be facing disciplinary proceedings at school, specifically from the University of Colorado (CU). These proceedings often move far more quickly than criminal proceedings, and the stakes are overwhelmingly high. School proceedings can lead to a number of life-altering sanctions, including:
· Removal from campus housing
· Losing scholarship money and financial aid
· Mandatory drug or alcohol testing
· Mandatory drug or alcohol counseling
· Academic probation
Simultaneous criminal and school proceedings can be terrifying, not to mention overwhelmingly stressful. Students often think they have to navigate school hearings alone, but this is a big mistake that puts your education at risk.
An experienced underage DUI lawyer will represent you not only in the courtroom but also in front of the school disciplinary board. You can count on your attorney to protect you from school boards that try to overstep their authority and violate your rights—which are probably different than your rights in a criminal hearing.
Your attorney will ensure that the hearing is fair and that your version of events is heard. You’ll get a defense strategy that’s tailor-made for your case and with it, the best chance at avoiding serious penalties.
Find A Sober Ride
An underage DUI conviction will change your life forever. It just isn’t worth the risk. If you are using alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, make the safe choice and get a sober ride home. You have many options that won’t jeopardize your future: public transportation, a friend, a taxi, or a rideshare service are all great ways to get home safely.
Knowledgeable Underage DUI Attorney In Boulder
If you or a loved one has been charged with underage DUI, you should speak with an experienced Boulder DUI lawyer immediately. The right criminal defense attorney will help you navigate the legal process and get you the best possible outcome.
At McCabe Law, we specialize in providing effective, thorough, and compassionate defense against DUI charges. With nearly 20 years’ experience representing fellow Coloradoans in court, we’re familiar with the laws, judges, and prosecutors, and we know what gets clients results.
An underage DUI can haunt you for the rest of your life. Our job is to make sure it doesn’t. For legal advice and to learn what we can do for you, please contact us or call 720-328-0739 today to set up a free consultation. We are conveniently located near the University of Colorado at Boulder and offer 24/7 real-time assistance.