Underage drinking and driving allows underage drivers to be charged for drinking and driving under circumstances that would not constitute an offense for an adult driver. A person who is under the age of 21 may be charged with a DUI or DWAI and the possible penalties are the same regardless of the person’s age.
If you are under 21, but your BAC was greater than 0.08, you will be charged with a DUI. If you are under 21, but your BAC was greater than a 0.05, you will be charged with a DWAI. The simple fact you are under 21 does not reduce the charge to an underage drinking and driving charge. In fact, some judges and prosecutors feel your underage status aggravates the situation. Even if you are underage, if you are charged with a DUI or DWAI, you are at risk of a jail sentence just as if you were over the age of 21.
A driver who is under 21 may be charged with underage drinking and driving (UDD) if his or her BAC is between 0.02 and 0.05. You will sometimes hear this referred to as a “baby DUI.” Underage drinking and driving only applies to alcohol. Unfortunately, this means that if drugs are at issue, you will likely be charged with a DWAI or DUI.
UDD is a class A traffic infraction. DUI and DWAI are traffic misdemeanors. Underage drinking and driving is a permanent mark on your driving record and while the law does not consider UDD to be a prior conviction should you be charged with a DUI or DWAI in the future, a judge or prosecutor is allowed to consider a UDD conviction when determining how to sentence a person or how to plea bargain a case. Do not let the “infraction” label lead you to believe it is not a significant charge.
For a UDD conviction, the court may sentence a person to community service hours, alcohol treatment, fines and court costs. In addition, there are driver license consequences.
DMV may revoke a minor’s driver’s license for being charged with UDD. Even if DMV does not revoke the license for the UDD charge, UDD is a four-point infraction, so a conviction will assess four points against a minor’s driver’s license. Colorado has a point system that controls when a person’s driver’s license may be suspended for having accrued too many points in too short a period of time. Minors are afforded fewer points than adult drivers. If you have other points already assessed against your license, the additional points associated with a UDD may put you over the points limit, which would also result in a suspension.