DUI Under 21 In Washington State

by ECL Writer
DUI Arrest In Washington State

DUI Under 21 In Washington State – DUI in Washington State is a serious offense, and when it involves an individual under the age of 21, the consequences can be even more severe. In the state of Washington, underage drinking and driving can result in significant legal ramifications, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. As a young adult, it is important to understand the laws and penalties associated with DUI under 21 in Washington State. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions and avoid putting yourself and others at risk.

In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore the legal implications of underage drinking and driving in Washington, including the potential consequences and steps you can take to protect yourself. So, if you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge under the age of 21 in Washington, read on to learn more about what you can expect and how to navigate this challenging situation.

Understanding The Legal Limit For Drivers Under 21

In Washington, the legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. This limit is significantly lower than the legal limit for drivers over the age of 21, which is a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It is important to note that even a small amount of alcohol in your system can impair your driving ability and increase the risk of an accident.

If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI, the police officer may administer a breathalyzer or blood test to determine your BAC. Refusing to take a BAC test can result in an automatic license suspension and may be used as evidence against you in court.

No of your age, it is forbidden in Washington to operate a motor vehicle or be in real physical control of one while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. A “per se” DUI conviction is possible if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of.08% or more within two hours of driving or a “per se marijuana” DUI conviction is possible if you drive with a blood THC concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter of blood. You can be found guilty of an “impairment” DUI regardless of the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system if you are caught driving while impaired.

The legal drinking age is 21, although, for those under 21, the limits are substantially lower: For drivers under the age of 21, have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least.02% within two hours of driving or operating a vehicle while having any amount of THC in their system is a misdemeanor (also known as “underage DUI”).

Penalties For DUI Under 21 In Washington State

DUI and underage DUI are distinct crimes with distinct punishments. The maximum jail sentence for a minor driving under the influence is 90 days. Younger drivers who are convicted will serve any time behind bars in a juvenile correctional center. You may be sentenced to up to two years of probation and a maximum fine of $1000 (see below).

A DUI conviction for driving while intoxicated while underage is not regarded as a “DUI prior” in Washington. Therefore, if you get another DUI later, it will be considered a first offense rather than a second. However, convictions for underage DUI are recorded in the offender’s criminal history. Therefore, the conviction can still have an effect on how the offender is punished for future offenses.

Standard DUI Penalties For Underage Offenders

Being underage does not protect a driver from being found guilty of a typical DUI if they operate a vehicle while intoxicated or with a blood alcohol or THC concentration that is higher than the legal limit for drivers 21 years of age or older. Drivers under 21 who are found guilty of a basic DUI are subject to the same penalties as those who are. There could be fines for:

First-offense DUI

A mandated minimum of 24 hours in jail and a fine of at least $941 are often imposed for a first-time DUI.

Second-offense DUI

A mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail, 60 days of electronic home monitoring, and at least $1196 in fines are typically imposed for a second offense DUI.

Third-offense DUI

A minimum of 90 days in jail, 120 days of electronic home monitoring, and at least $2046 in fines are often required for a third or subsequent DUI.

A DUI conviction for a driver may result in a five-year probationary period. Additionally, if you skip a court appearance while on probation and the judge issues a warrant, your probationary period is tolled until you show up, which means you can end up spending more time on probation.

The following are prohibited by the driver’s probation for DUI:

  • driving a car without a license
  • driving without a valid insurance card 
  • driving while intoxicated or drugged
  • driving without an ignition interlock device (IID), if one is necessary, and 
  • declining a police officer’s request to submit to a breathalyzer test for DUI.

Any of these violations by drivers will result in a mandatory 30-day license suspension and a 30-day jail sentence. (If the driver’s license is already suspended, the suspension is extended for an additional 30 days.)

Drivers who declined chemical testing in violation of Washington’s implied consent rules or had a BAC of.15% or above face stiffer penalties.

License Consequences For Underage Offenders

Regardless of the age of the driver, the Washington State Department of Licensing imposes two types of penalties for DUI-related crimes. Even if the driver is not ultimately found guilty of a crime in court, an administrative license suspension is triggered by an underage DUI or standard DUI arrest if the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or THC concentration exceeds the legal limit (see above).

A 90-day to two-year administrative suspension is possible. Additionally, if the driver is finally found guilty of underage DUI, regular DUI, or a lesser felony that began as a DUI, their license will be suspended once more for a period of 90 days to four years. However, any period of the administrative suspension that the driver has already completed is deducted from the period of the criminal conviction suspension. So, instead of 180 days, a driver who receives a 90-day administrative suspension and a second 90-day ban for a DUI conviction will only need to serve 90 days altogether.

You are able to obtain an IID license even while your driver’s license is suspended. During your suspension, you are permitted to operate a vehicle with an IID thanks to an IID license. IIDs are also necessary for a while after the suspension is over—for all drivers. The facts of the offense determine how long the IID period will be.

RCW 46.61.503 

(1) Regardless of any other provisions in this legislation, a person is considered guilty of driving or being in physical control of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol if the following conditions are met:

(a) The person is under the age of twenty-one.

(b) Within two hours of operating or being in physical control of the motor vehicle, the person’s alcohol concentration is at least 0.02 but less than the concentration specified in RCW 46.61.502, as determined by analyzing the person’s breath or blood in accordance with RCW 46.61.506.

(2) It is an affirmative defense for a violation of subsection (1) of this section, which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence. The defense requires the defendant to show that they consumed enough alcohol after the time of driving or being in physical control, but before undergoing breath or blood analysis, to cause their alcohol concentration to be in violation of subsection (1) of this section within two hours of driving or being in physical control. The court will not consider this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to either: (a) Seven days before the trial, or (b) the omnibus or pretrial hearing, regarding their intent to assert the affirmative defense.

(3) Analyses of blood or breath samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged driving or being in physical control can be used as evidence that, within two hours of the alleged driving or being in physical control, the person had an alcohol concentration in violation of subsection (1) of this section.

(4) A violation of this section is classified as a misdemeanor.

How To Proceed If Charged With DUI Under 21

If you are charged with DUI under the age of 21 in Washington, it is essential to take the matter seriously and seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand your rights, explore your legal options, and build a strong defense.

It is crucial to be honest with your attorney and provide them with all the details of the incident, including any mitigating circumstances that may be relevant to your case. Your attorney can help you navigate the legal system and work to minimize the potential consequences of a DUI conviction.

Importance Of Hiring An Experienced DUI Attorney

Hiring an experienced DUI attorney is essential if you are facing a DUI charge under the age of 21 in Washington. DUI cases can be complex and require a thorough understanding of the law and the legal system. An experienced attorney can help you build a strong defense, negotiate with prosecutors, and represent you in court.

It is important to choose an attorney with experience handling DUI cases, especially cases involving underage offenders. Look for an attorney who has a proven track record of success and who is familiar with the local court system.

Defenses For DUI Under 21 Charges

There are several defenses that an attorney can use to challenge a DUI charge under the age of 21 in Washington. One common defense is to challenge the validity of the BAC test, arguing that the test was administered improperly or that the results were inaccurate.

Another defense is to argue that the police officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle or administer a BAC test. A skilled attorney can also challenge the admissibility of any evidence obtained illegally or without a warrant.

How To Avoid A DUI Conviction

The best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. If you plan to drink, make sure you have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service. Avoid getting behind the wheel if you have consumed any amount of alcohol, even if you feel fine.

If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI, be polite and respectful to the police officer. Do not admit to anything or answer any questions without first consulting with an attorney. Refusing to take a BAC test can result in an automatic license suspension, but it may be the best option if you believe the test will show a BAC above the legal limit.

Resources For DUI Education And Prevention

There are several resources available in Washington for DUI education and prevention. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission offers a DUI prevention program called Target Zero, which aims to eliminate DUI-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also offers a variety of resources for DUI education and prevention, including information on the risks of drunk driving and tips for avoiding a DUI conviction.

Conclusion

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have significant legal and personal consequences. In the state of Washington, underage drinking and driving can result in severe penalties, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge under the age of 21 in Washington, it is important to seek legal representation and understand the potential consequences of a conviction.

By following the tips outlined in this article, you can help protect yourself and others from the dangers of underage drinking and driving. Remember, the best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. Stay safe and make responsible choices when it comes to alcohol and driving.

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