The state of Colorado takes drinking and driving very seriously. Every year, law enforcement authorities arrest numerous individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol, many of whom are underage. What do state laws have to say about underage DUI?

Colorado, like all other states, has zero tolerance laws when it comes to underage drinkers. What does that mean? What penalties may follow an underage DUI conviction?

Zero tolerance law basics

The law prohibits young adults who are under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing alcohol. If you are under 21 and thought to be driving under the influence of alcohol, even if a blood alcohol test fails to register alcohol in your system or only registers a small amount, police can arrest you.

Why are underage DUI laws so strict? A driver who is of age to consume alcohol will likely not face DUI charges until his or her BAC reaches .08 percent, or the person is visibly having a hard time operating his or her vehicle or causes an accident. What is it about younger people that allows for the law to treat them so differently?

Authorities treat underage drinkers so severely due to statistics regarding the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving individuals between the ages of 15 and 20. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of deaths in this particular age group occur in car crashes. Roughly 35 percent of those deaths are alcohol-related. Individuals under the age of 21 are more likely to cause auto accidents even if their blood-alcohol levels are relatively low.

Consequences for underage drinking

If charged with an underage DUI, the consequences associated with a conviction can completely disrupt your life. Penalties may include:

  • Jail time
  • License suspension
  • Mandatory rehabilitation

A DUI charge may not seem like a big deal, but it is not something you should let slide. You do not have to accept whatever punishment the state is going to hand down. You have every right to defend yourself in both your criminal and administrative hearings. Fighting an underage DUI charge will not prove to be an easy feat, but that does not mean it is impossible to seek a reduction in charges or penalties or to seek to have the case dismissed entirely.