Colorado Underage Drinking and Driving (DUI) Laws


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. A first violation is treated as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

Minors and adults alike are also subject to the state's criminal DUI laws:

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. This is Colorado's "minor in possession" law.

2. What are the penalties for underage DUI in Colorado?

2.1. First offense

Consequences of a first UDD in Colorado can include:

  • A fine of up to $150,
  • An 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. Can I fight a charge of 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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For more information or assistance with your case, we invite you to contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.

Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330

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

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