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3 things to know about underage drinking and driving in Colorado

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In Colorado, the legal driving limit for Driving Under the Influence is 0.08. This means that if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher -- and you are pulled over by police -- you will most likely end up being arrested and ticketed for driving under the influence. If you are stopped and have a blood alcohol content of 0.05 to 0.079, you will likely be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired. However, if you are under the age of 21, even a much lower blood alcohol content will result in a criminal charge.

No. 1: "Zero tolerance" for underage drinkers

Colorado has a zero tolerance law in place. For drivers under the age of 21, it is a crime to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 to 0.05, even if that person feels and appears to be sober.

Put in even simpler terms: One beer could end up leading to a drunk driving-related conviction.

No. 2: You could lose your license

If you are pulled over and your blood alcohol content is between .02 and .05 percent, you will be charged with Underage Drinking and Driving undefined, commonly known as a UDD. If this is your first UDD, you can expect most Colorado judges to impose a fine, community service, and an alcohol education program. If you are convicted of UDD, your driver's license will be revoked for three months, but you may be able to obtain a probationary license after 30 days.

However, if this is your second UDD, this upgrades the offense from a traffic infraction to a traffic misdemeanor and the fines get more expensive. You could also end up spending time in jail and a second time UDD will also result in a six-month revocation of your driver's license.

No 3: The higher the BAC, the more severe the consequences

If your blood alcohol content is between .05 and .079, you will face similar consequences to the ones mentioned above. Additionally, you could face possible jail time. The consequences for your driver's license will also be more serious. Your license will be revoked for three months with one of the big differences being you cannot request a probationary driver's license after 30 days for a first time offense. This means a first time offense with a .06 blood alcohol content will lead to a three month revocation, period.

Lastly, if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or above, your case will be treated as an adult DUI case. However, unlike a person who is 21 or over, you will lose your driving privilege for nine months with a first offense, with no possibility of early reinstatement.

Bottom line: An arrest is not a conviction

If you are someone who was recently arrested, know that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. You will not face any of these consequences unless or until you are convicted at trial or enter into a plea bargain. UDD cases will remain on your criminal record permanently, and will create long term consequences for your driving privilege. Defenses may be available in your case; an attorney can evaluate your case and assist you in getting the best possible outcome. If you are charged with UDD or with DWAI or DUI, you are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney right away.

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