Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is unlawful for drivers of any age, however, DUI charges can be particularly serious for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. Unfortunately, teenagers often feel invincible and fail to recognize both the physical and legal risks of drinking and driving. Teenagers may also be less likely to call their parents for a safe ride out of fear of getting in trouble for drinking in the first place. For these reasons, you should always have a discussion to address DUI with your teen driver and be up-front about the risks and the following topics.
You Are Available for Rides
First, you should always ask your child to be open with you about alcohol use and make it clear that you will always be available to provide a safe ride home without judgement or retribution. According to a recent study, children who have parents that believe underage drinking under any circumstances is unacceptable are 80 percent more likely to engage in underage drinking than children who get a different message. Parents should be realistic in thinking that there is a good chance their high school or college-aged kids will drink at some point, and they should do their best to educate their children about alcohol and be there if their child ever needs help.
Zero Tolerance Laws in Colorado
Your child should understand that DUI laws are different in Colorado for underage drivers than they are for drivers over age 21. The legal limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) does not apply to minors and, instead, Colorado law allows prosecution of any underage driver with a BAC of only 0.02 percent. This extremely low threshold may easily be reached by having only one drink in most situations. Make sure that your teenager understands that it is never okay to drink any amount of alcohol–no matter how miniscule–and then get behind the wheel of a car.
Criminal Charges and Penalties
Teach your child about what will likely happen if they get pulled over after drinking. Not only will they have the frightening experience of being arrested, but they will also likely face criminal charges for DUI and minor in possession. The consequences of these charges can involve hefty fines, probation, losing your driver’s license, and even time in jail. Criminal convictions will also go on their permanent record and may even jeopardize college acceptances or future professional licensures.
Stoned Driving is Also Against the Law
Teenagers should know that using marijuana and driving is just as illegal as drinking and driving and can result in DUI charges and convictions. This is important to address as more teenagers recently reported driving while stoned than driving drunk.
If you have a teenage driver in your household who has been arrested or charged with DUI, you should always call an experienced Denver DUI defense attorney at the Tiftickjian Law Firm as soon as possible for help. We regularly handle all types of DUI-related charges, so please call to discuss your case today.