Colorado Consequences for Drivers Under 21

The BAC limits for underage drivers in Colorado are lower than for adult drivers. A driver under the age of 21 faces stiffer consequences than an adult for a violation of Colorado’s DUI laws. In addition, teenagers and drivers under age 21 cannot apply for early reinstatement of their driver’s license if revoked for a DUI offense in most situations.

A minor driver faces driver’s license consequences if he or she has a BAC over .02, which is less than the .05 limit that establishes an inference of DWAI, Colorado’s lesser-included charge to DUI.

Upon arrest for DUI, a driver is given a choice of taking a blood or breath test if alcohol consumption is suspected, or only a blood test if drug use is alleged. If the driver refuses to take a test, the police officer will confiscate the driver’s license and serve the driver with revocation paperwork. If the minor elects to take a breath test, and the result is at least .02, the arresting officer will also take the minor’s driver’s license and issue a notice of revocation alerting the minor to the driver’s license revocation and opportunity to file for a hearing objecting to the revocation.

If the driver elects a blood test, results usually take 2-4 weeks from a toxicology laboratory. The minor, therefore, would be allowed to keep his or her driver’s license pending the results of the blood test. Should the test result in an estimate of .02 or more, the minor will receive a letter in the mail from the Colorado Department of Revenue with the result and notice of revocation.

At this point, it is key to speak to a qualified Colorado DUI attorney about the pertinent rights and obligations under law. Assuming the minor perfects his or her right to a DMV hearing by timely filing the notice of objection, the DMV will schedule a DMV hearing. This proceeding is separate from the criminal court case that may also be pending due to the DUI charges. At this DMV hearing, a hearing officer will consider the evidence and make a determination as to whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, it is established that a police officer had a legal reason to contact the driver, whether the officer had probable cause to suspect the driver was impaired by alcohol, and whether the minor driver took a blood or breath test with a valid result of at least 0.02 breath alcohol or blood alcohol content. If these minimal burdens are met, the minor will lose his or her diving privilege.

Below is a chart that outlines the consequences for minors that drive with a BAC of .02 or more in Colorado. For DMV purposes, “minor” Is defined as anyone under age 21 at the time of the offense.

DMV Hearing / Court Conviction Duration of Revocation Restricted or Probationary License   Eligibility
BAC 0.02-0.05 3 months Eligible for probationary license
BAC 0.05-0.08 1 year Not eligible
BAC 0.08 or more 9 months Not eligible
Refusal 1 year Not eligible
Conviction – DUI or DWAI 1 year Not eligible

As you can see, Colorado law is serious when it comes to driver’s license consequences for minors. Any experienced DUI attorney will tell you that the integration between the Department of Revenue and the criminal courts is one of the trickiest areas of DUI law. Assessing how a minor can navigate through the justice system with a pending driving under the influence charge is no exception.

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