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Underage DUI in Washington State - What You Need to Know

Posted Monday, January 29, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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Charges for underage drinking and driving are serious in Washington State. Underage DUI’s involve breaking two rules―the consumption of alcohol under the legal drinking age of twenty-one and driving while intoxicated.

Under Washington law, a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor if the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, or a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher. RCW 46.61.502.

However, the legal limits for alcohol and marijuana concentration are significantly lower for underage drivers. In Washington State, the Driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol or marijuana statute makes it illegal for an underage driver to have an alcohol concentration of at or above 0.02 (but still below the 0.08 legal limit of Washington’s DUI statute) or a THC concentration above 0.00 (but still below the 5.00 legal limit of Washington’s DUI statute). RCW 46.41.503. This is sometimes referred to as a “minor DUI.”

A violation of the Driving under twenty-one consuming alcohol or marijuana statute is a misdemeanor. RCW 46.41.503(5). Conviction of a minor DUI is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, though it carries no mandatory jail time, fines, or ignition interlock device requirement.

However, an arrest for a minor DUI may trigger an administrative license suspension by the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). This license suspension can happen even in the absence of a criminal conviction. You must request a hearing with the DOL to contest the suspension within 20 days of the date you were arrested. If you do not request a hearing within 20 days, or the hearing examiner does not rule in your favor, your license will be suspended for at least 90 days.

The Driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol or marijuana (“minor DUI”) statute RCW 46.41.503 generally applies only to cases where the evidence shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 to 0.79 or a THC concentration above 0.00 up to 4.99. Otherwise it is likely that charges will be brought under Washington’s DUI law, which carries harsher punishment including mandatory minimum sentencing.

Defending Against Underage DUI Charges

If you have been arrested for underage DUI in Washington State, it is critical that you have an attorney represent you at every stage of the criminal process - from arraignment, to plea negotiations, and through trial if it comes to that. An experienced DUI defense attorney is your best chance at getting the most favorable outcome possible in your case.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC will provide you with tenacious defense in court to combat serious DUI charges. Our attorneys have built our reputation on defense of charges for DUI. We have successfully litigated DUI charges to not guilty verdicts and obtained reduction in charges to lesser crimes, such as Reckless Driving or Reckless Endangerment. Our experience is extensive and our success is frequent.

We invite you to come meet with us for a free consultation to explore how we can help you. Our attorneys have outstanding reputations. Lizanne Padula is a tireless negotiator and a tenacious litigator. Ms. Padula was appointed to serve as a Judge Pro-Tem in Snohomish County in May of 2017. She also serves as the Board President for Citizens for Judicial Excellence (CJE), teaches Ethics as part of the Continuing Legal Education credits (CLEs) offered by CJE, and teaches CLEs for the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL).

Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366 of fill out this simple web form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced DUI defense attorney. Padula & Associates, LLC will fiercely advocate on your behalf.

For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services.