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Is "buzzed driving" illegal?

You've undoubtedly seen the commercials on Denver TV stations or heard them on radio. The message is pretty clear: "buzzed driving is drunk driving," say the ads. OK, that's clear enough.

But what is "buzzed driving"? According to researchers, it is driving while your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal threshold of 0.08 percent. So you are "buzzed" when your BAC is anywhere from 0.01 percent to 0.07 percent.

Of course, when we mention the legal threshold of 0.08 percent, that does not include minors. Here in Colorado, state law says that if you are under the age of 21 and driving with a buzz as low as 0.02 percent, you can be arrested and convicted. In these cases, buzzed driving can certainly be treated by the court system as underage DUI.

However, let's set aside the legal technicalities for a moment. Research shows that for anyone of any age, driving while buzzed increases the risks of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Of course, if you cause an accident while impaired by alcohol, your potential penalties increase, all the way up to vehicular assault and vehicular homicide if unthinkable tragedy occurs.

A University of California study shows that even "minimally buzzed" drivers cause more fatal accidents than sober motorists. The researchers said they recommend that the legal threshold for drunken driving be reduced and that they agree with the ad slogan that buzzed driving is drunk driving. They said there is no safe amount of alcohol a person can consume before getting behind the wheel.

Those facing underage DUI charges should speak with an attorney who knows how to protect your rights, liberty and future. 

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