If you get pulled over by the police and they give you a breath test, as an adult who is at least 21 years old, you know that the legal limit is 0.08%. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) crosses that line, the police officers are going to assume that you are impaired and arrest you.
However, Colorado has zero-tolerance laws. For drivers who are under the age of 21, and who are not legally allowed to drink, this means that even a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% can be enough for them to get arrested. As the name implies, the state simply does not tolerate underage drinking and driving, even if there is less alcohol in the person’s system.
What if they didn’t know there was any?
The problem with this is that the higher limit of 0.08% assumes that the person would know that they were impaired. They may make a mistake due to their intoxication and believe that they’re not, but they can tell that they’ve been drinking if their BAC is that high. It’s going to affect their cognitive ability and their motor skills, just to name two crucial areas.
But a teenager who only has 0.02% of alcohol in their system may not feel intoxicated at all. They may not know they have any alcohol in their blood because they were given a spiked drink at a party or tricked into drinking a sparkling water that actually contained alcohol.
The idea behind the law is that the teen would know that they were illegally drinking and that they shouldn’t drive. But if the teen doesn’t know that they were drinking to start with, they may have no physical warning signs and they could be arrested without even realizing that they’re breaking the law.
If something like this has happened to your child, be sure you know what legal options you have.