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What is Colorado’s under-21 zero tolerance law?

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2018 | Firm News |

Drivers under the age of 21 may face some serious penalties if they decide to have a few beers and get behind the wheel — even if their blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) is below .08 percent.

In fact, while the per se BAC limit for driving under the influence (DUI) is .08 percent in Colorado, the Centennial State has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drivers — meaning the BAC limits that apply to them are much stricter. For example, a driver can face underage drinking and driving (UDD) charges if their BAC is as low as .02 percent.

Will I lose my license?

Under Colorado law, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can revoke the license of anyone under the age of 21 who is driving with a BAC in excess of .02 percent, but less than .08 percent. The revocation periods for these UDD offenses include:

  • First offense: three-month license revocation
  • Second offense: six-month license revocation
  • Third or subsequent offense: one-year license revocation

It is also worth noting, however, that first-time offenders whose BACs are not more than .05 percent can request a 30-day revocation, followed by a two-month suspension. During this suspension period, the individual can seek a probationary license, which can be used for specific purposes such as employment, school or healthcare, among others.

What about criminal penalties?

In addition to the administrative penalties (i.e. license revocation) listed above, underage individuals caught drinking and driving may face criminal consequences as well. For example, Colorado law states that it is a Class A traffic infraction for someone under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle with a BAC of at least .02 percent but not more than .05 percent.

Violating this law can result in fines and community/public service, in addition to a license revocation. A second violation of this law is a Class 2 traffic misdemeanor, which carries all the same penalties, plus possible jail time.