Underage drinking and driving is a serious offense in Colorado. Failure to take such charges seriously can result in loss of scholarships or internships, inability to qualify for certain jobs or career fields, and enhanced penalties for repeat offenses.
As a veteran drunk driving defense attorney in Denver, James Colgan has spent nearly three decades prosecuting and defending those accused of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with ability impaired (DWAI).
Conviction of DWAI or DUI will cost, on average, more than $10,000, including court costs, fines, fees, drug or alcohol counseling and drastically increased insurance premiums. Many career fields will be closed to those with a drunk driving conviction on their record, particularly those that involve driving, or routine travel, as well as those involving law enforcement.
Because of Colorado’s zero tolerance policy, it is not a defense to UDD charges that you were driving safely and without impairment. UDD is a strict liability offense, meaning virtually any amount of alcohol in an underage driver’s system is enough for them to be presumed guilty. While UDD is technically an infraction, and not a criminal offense, the consequences of conviction may still be serious from a societal standpoint.
In many cases, a juvenile may be charged with an adult DUI instead of a delinquency adjudication. This can leave a conviction on their permanent driving record, result in more serious criminal penalties for a subsequent conviction, and may carry a host of societal consequences, including an inability to hold certain professional licenses or work in certain professions. A conviction may even negatively impact college admissions or financial aid eligibility.
Virtually any amount of alcohol in a young person’s system is enough to get them convicted of underage drunk driving. UDD charges may be issued for a BAC of .02 to .05; DWAI charges may be filed with a BAC of more than .05 and less than .08; and DUI charges filed at .08 and above.
Underage drunk driving (UDD), sometimes called a “baby DUI,” is punishable by a 3-month license suspension, and 24 hours of public service. However, of even greater consequence is that it puts a young driver in law enforcement databases, making it much more likely they will be targeted and stopped again and again. Additionally, underage drivers with a BAC punishable by a charge of DWAI and DUI will face those adult charges, along with all of the associated consequences.
In such cases, a defense of both the administrative and criminal cases will be necessary. Those convicted of UDD may be able to get restored driving privileges after a period of 30 days. In many ways, contesting the administrative case can be more difficult than contesting the criminal case. However, even when administrative sanctions cannot be averted, determining all of the evidence that will be used against a defendant in the criminal case can have many benefits.
Those who test higher will face the same consequences as adults.
Previous convictions will increase the penalties in the event you are arrested in the future. While nobody plans to be arrested the first time, veteran Denver drunk driving defense lawyers know a conviction on your record makes it much more likely you will face additional traffic stops for years to come.
|DWAI||Misdemeanor||2-180 days||Up to $500||24-48 hours|
|DUI||Misdemeanor||5 days - 1 yr||Up to $1000||48-96 hours|
|DWAI/DUI 2nd||Misdemeanor||10 days - 1 yr||Up to $1500||48-120 hours|
|DWAI/DUI 3rd||Misdemeanor||60 days - 1 yr||Up to 1500||48-120 hours|
|DWAI/DUI 4th||Felony||2-6 years (3yrs parole)||–||48-120 hours|
The legalized status of marijuana in Colorado has led to increasing attempts to penalize motorists for driving under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana smokeables and other consumable marijuana products.
If a defendant's blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta-9 THC (the active substance in some marijuana) per milliliter in whole blood, there is a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.
This arbitrary limit is problematic for many reasons. Chronic users may have higher base blood levels and different people metabolize marijuana at different rates, although even for fast metabolizers and casual users the drug usually remains in the system for a week or longer. Additionally, the strength of marijuana and whether it was smoked or ingested will also impact results, as will the presence of THC-8 or THC-10 or other THC derivatives.
Failure to comply with a request for blood, urine or other testing may be used against you but is typically a better option than providing the state with a failed test to use against you in court. While it may not stop an administrative penalty (license suspension) it can prevent a criminal conviction in some cases. The law presumes that every driver has consented to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that the person is DUI or DWAI. Refusal to take the test is both admissible in court and a basis for revocation of a driver's license.
In Denver and surrounding towns, revenue from municipal court DUI convictions is a primary funder of the criminal justice system. Targeted enforcement against college students often occurs in the areas around local campuses and the bars, clubs and restaurants that serve them. This includes the Community College of Denver, Colorado Heights University, Colorado Christian University, Iliff School of Theology, Johnson & Wales University- Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University, Red Rock Community College, Rocky Mountain, College of Art and Design, University of Colorado Denver and the University of Denver.
Denver Drunk Driving Defense Attorney James Colgan takes great care in representing young adults facing drunk driving and other charges. He believes such mistakes are a part of maturing and should not follow them into adulthood.
Call the Law Office of James Colgan at 720-909-6425 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
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