Was your child arrested for DUI? If so, you should retain an attorney who is well-versed in Colorado’s complex juvenile laws.
Although licensed drivers under the age of 21 represent only 10% of all drivers in the United States, they account for 17% of all fatal vehicle accidents. Because of this, law enforcement and prosecutors take these charges seriously, and are often aggressive in pursuing harsh punishment against juvenile defenders.
I’m Christian A. Schwaner, P.C., a former prosecutor with over two decades of experience in criminal law. I know the uphill battle juvenile defendants will face knowing DUI charges could impact their bright futures. The criminal justice system in this state will come down hard on young people who violate driving laws, especially those which may end another’s life, but I’m ready to protect your rights.
To discuss your case with me, call (719) 577-9700. I’ll schedule a consultation where you can discuss your case and potential outcomes. If you’re under 18, we’ll need your parents present during the consultation.
Colorado’s Juvenile DUI Laws
C. R.S. 42-4-1301 covers driving under the influence, driving while impaired, and driving with an excessive BAC. According to normal “adult” statutes, .08% is the legal limit. Under a Zero Tolerance law, underage drivers who exceed .02% but are under .05% could be convicted of a “baby” DUI charge, with little leeway to refute the charges unless you retain legal help.
If juveniles are charged with DUI and the BAC exceeds .05%, they would be charged in the same manner as adults who register a .08%. Subsequent violations will compound until the juvenile has lost their license for an extended period, received substantial jail time, or both.
Since officers can, and often will, detain juveniles found to be driving with BACs at just .001%, it’s best to consult an attorney who knows what burden of proof the state must provide to secure a conviction.
Penalties if Convicted of Juvenile DUI
DUIs at any age carry stiff penalties in Colorado. Sentences judges have handed down in juvenile DUI cases include:
- Suspension of driving privileges for 90 days, up to three years;
- Points on your driving record;
- Loss of vehicle through impoundment;
- Court costs up to $2,500;
- Being required to attend alcohol and drug education as part of your sentence, and at your own expense;
- 30-60 days of community service;
- Up to five years of probation;
- Up to one year behind bars; and
- A potential mark against your criminal record which may be used against you in unrelated crimes.
With each additional DUI charge added to the juvenile’s record, the sentences increase and the fines grow as well. If the minor child committed vehicular manslaughter or other serious felonies while driving drunk, the possibility of being tried as an adult exists.
Potential Defenses to Juvenile DUI Charges
Just because you were arrested or charged with a DUI crime does not mean that all hope is lost. With a strategic defense, I may be able to get your penalties reduced or your charges dropped altogether. Some potential defenses I may use to help lessen your DUI charges include:
- There’s no evidence the juvenile actually drove. There must be proof the car was driven at some point when the minor was drunk. For example, a minor found passed out in their friend’s vehicle with the keys still in the ignition may have been abandoned by their friend and never actually drove themselves.
- The arrest was unlawful. All arrests must follow Colorado laws, and even a minor procedural error could get your case thrown out.
- Officer lacked probable cause. Pulling someone over “just because” could be construed as harassment, even if the juvenile was intoxicated. Without probable cause, the case could be dismissed.
- Illegal search and seizure. Officers can’t ruffle through your belongings or look through your trunk without probable cause or an appropriate warrant. If they see something illegal through your window, that may be probable cause enough; however, seeing an empty beer bottle doesn’t necessary mean it belongs to the juvenile driver.
We may use other defenses depending on what body cam or dash cam footage we find. Also, we’ll look over your police report to see if anything seems incorrect.
I wasn’t drunk, but I was high. Can I still get a DUI?
Alcohol and drugs are both included in DUI charges. This means marijuana and other drugs can lead to an arrest if your driving was affected by those drugs. If the side effects of legal prescription medication made you “appear” intoxicated, and you were arrested, contact my office immediately.
Can I go to jail on my first offense?
Colorado’s sentencing guidelines allow judges to place juvenile offenders in confinement if they feel doing so would teach them a lesson. The likelihood your case would be treated that way is unknown; consult with your attorney to learn about potential penalties on your first DUI.
What happens if I refuse BAC testing?
In Colorado, adults can refuse testing if they’ve been arrested for suspicion of DUI; however, being arrested for DUI means they have revoked their right to refuse. All juveniles under 21 who are being detained under suspicion of DUI must submit to chemical testing.
I Can Help You in Juvenile DUI Cases
Having once prosecuted cases of underage DUI, I know what the state is thinking when your case hits their desk. Colorado looks down on minors who threaten others’ safety by driving drunk; whether you’re guilty or innocent is irrelevant when you’re first arrested, however, and it’s my job to examine the case the prosecutor is attempting to build against you.
For twenty years, I’ve made criminal law my passion, and it’s that passion which motivates me to defend juveniles who have their whole lives ahead of them. Good kids sometimes make bad mistakes when they first learn to drive, and it’s my job to fight for them.
Contact me, Christian A. Schwaner, P.C., at my office through my online contact form or by phone by calling (719) 577-9700. Together, we’ll fight your juvenile DUI charge so you can put this situation behind you and move on with your life.