Colorado Underage Drinking and Driving (DUI) Laws

Colorado's “zero tolerance” law for underage (under 21) drivers 

In Colorado, all drivers are subject to laws against:

But Colorado also has an even stricter law against underage drinking or driving (UDD).  Under section 42-4-1301(2)(d) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.), it is unlawful for drivers under age 21 to drive with a BAC between .02% and .05%. This is sometimes referred to as Colorado's “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers.

To help you better understand Colorado UDD, below our Colorado DUI defense lawyers discuss:

1. Is Underage DUI a crime in Colorado?

A first offense for underage DUI is a Colorado class A traffic infraction. It is not a crime. Second or subsequent violations are, however, misdemeanor criminal offenses.

Colorado's UDD law is a strict liability offense. This means you violate it if you are under 21 and you drive after consuming alcohol for pretty much any reason -- even a seemingly legitimate one such as:

  • Taking an over-the-counter cold medicine containing alcohol,
  • Swallowing  a mouthwash containing alcohol,
  • Eating a dessert that contains alcohol,
  • Attending a wine tasting (even if you spit the wine out),
  • Tasting wine at a cooking class.

In addition, if you are under 21 and you have alcohol, marijuana, or drug paraphernalia in your vehicle, you can be charged with a separate violation of 18-13-122, C.R.S. -- Colorado's "minor in possession" law.

2. Penalties for Colorado DUI Under 21

2.1. First offense

Consequences of a first UDD in Colorado can include:

  • A fine of up to $150,
  • Automatic three-month suspension of your driver's license,
  • 4 points on your Colorado driving record, 
  • Up to 24 hours of useful public service, 
  • An evaluation or assessment for alcohol and/or drugs (at your own expense), and
  • An education and treatment program for alcohol and/or drugs (at your own expense).

2.2. Subsequent offense

A second or subsequent UDD violation is a Colorado class 2 traffic misdemeanor.

Potential consequences of a second UDD include (in addition to those above) increased jail time and fines of:

  • 10 -- 90 days in jail, and/or 
  • A fine of up to $300.

3. Defenses to Colorado Underage DUI

Because Colorado UDD is a strict liability offense, there are fewer legal defenses than for DUI or DWAI.

However, like all the best Colorado DUI lawyers, we know there are still defenses to be made on your behalf. Some of the more common defenses to Colorado UDD charges include:

  • Your traffic stop was illegal.
  • The officer had no reasonable basis to conclude you had consumed alcohol (and hence to ask you to take a UDD breath test).
  • There were errors in your DUI breath test.
  • You were given something alcoholic without your knowledge.

Call us for help…

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If you or your child has been charged with UDD, DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. One of our caring Colorado DUI attorneys will get back to you promptly to discuss your case.

We represent clients accused of drunk and drugged driving throughout the state of Colorado. Communities we serve include Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster and Centennial.

Whether you need a skilled DUI lawyer to represent you in court or a top DUI attorney for a Colorado DMV license hearing, we've got you covered. Use the form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street ste. 400
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202




 Arrested in Nevada? See our article on Nevada underage DUI laws.

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