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Why Colorado does not insist on using the zero-tolerance law

The zero-tolerance law exists for drivers under the age of 21, but the BAC threshold is actually 0.02%.

The state of Colorado does not always enforce the zero-tolerance law for young drivers. What are the reasons for this and how do courts determine penalties for DUI or DWAI?

About zero tolerance

The zero-tolerance law applies to drivers under the age of 21 and assumes there is no alcohol in the body. However, the human body manufactures alcohol naturally. In addition, various foods contain alcohol. A breath test, used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content level, is unreliable. For these reasons, the state of Colorado allows the BAC for young drivers to be under 0.02% in the effort to prevent unjustified DUI or DWAI convictions.

Food and alcohol

Because alcohol evaporates at 172 F., it was once believed that any alcohol added to food burned off during the cooking process. However, this is incorrect according to the United States Department of Agriculture. For example, the USDA finds that 85% of the alcohol added to meats at the end of the cooking time remains. In addition, 70% of the alcohol used in marinades will remain, even during a longer cooking time.

Penalties for young drivers

In determining penalties for young drivers charged with DUI or DWAI, the court will consider not only the estimated BAC but the age of the driver, the type of license carried and whether there were previous convictions. Consideration will also extend to his or her race, socio-economic status and demeanor in court. A defense strategy will include an examination of the zero-tolerance law and its role in the arrest of the young driver.

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