Early Tuesday morning a suspected drunk driver crashed into a Denver police patrol vehicle. The accident happened on eastbound I-70 and Havana Street. The driver was arrested for suspicion of DUI. The driver’s name has not yet been released. The officer was not severely injured.
Over Memorial Day weekend 2012, a drunk driver, Conner Donohue, ran into an Englewood police officer, Jeremy Bitner, killing the officer. In early January, an Arapahoe County judge reduced the driver’s ten year prison sentence by six months. The driver in this case was not only drunk, but was also underage.
While Donohue was underage, the charges Donohue faced and the sentence imposed are not solely a reflection of his underage status. In Colorado, there is a separate charge for underage drinking and driving. This offense is referred to as “UDD” or a “baby DUI.” However, this is only charged when a person is under 21 and their BAC is less than a 0.05. If the BAC is greater than 0.05, then the driver is charged with a DWAI or DUI just as though the driver was over 21. The fact that a person is underage may be considered an aggravating factor for purposes of sentencing.
Donohue, while underage for drinking, was over the age of 18. Donohue was charged in adult court. Had Donohue been under 18, the prosecution could have filed the charges in juvenile court, but because of the fatality, the prosecution may have initiated proceedings to have the case filed in adult court notwithstanding the driver’s age.
Source: Denver Post, 1/21/14, Kirk Mitchell