Need Help Fighting an Underage DUI? Emerald City is Here For You
We understand how scary this experience can be. We will guide you through the DUI legal process and fight for you in court. We will also strive to minimize the consequences of any conviction so you can continue your education and build your career. Call us today at 206-973-0407.
You also need to be aware that Washington has very strict laws against controlling a vehicle with alcohol or marijuana in your system. This is essential for college students to understand. Cannabis and alcohol are often readily available on college campuses. It may seem like you can get away with imbibing once in a while. However, getting into a car afterward could lead to serious criminal charges. When you are too young to purchase alcohol or marijuana in the state, you may be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if there is any presence of THC in your blood or even the smallest amount of alcohol in your blood when you are driving or in physical control of a vehicle.
Underage DUI in Washington
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.503 outlines what constitutes an underage DUI, also known as a minor DUI. It states that you can be found guilty of a DUI after consuming alcohol or marijuana if you operate or are in physical control of a vehicle within the state and you:
- Are under the age of 21, and
- Within two hours of operating or being in physical control of a vehicle, you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .02 percent or a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of more than zero percent.
Understanding THC in the Body
It is essential that you understand THC can remain in your system for a significant period of time – much longer than alcohol. Everyone reacts to and processes THC a little differently, so there is no exact timeline. However, it is possible for THC to be in your body days after you smoke marijuana or consume a related product. A blood test conducted by the police may detect THC levels even after a single use of marijuana or a THC product days before. If you are a consistent marijuana user, a detectable amount of THC will remain in your body for a longer period of time.
This means you may face an underage, drug-related DUI when you have THC in your system, even if you were not impaired while driving or in physical control of a vehicle. If this is the situation you face, contact a DUI lawyer immediately.
License Suspension for Underage DUI
When you are arrested for an underage DUI, you may face an automatic driver’s license suspension. as well as face civil license suspension from the Washington Department of Licensing. Washington has an implied consent law, so under RCW 46.20.308, you have already consented to undergo a breath test if you are ever arrested for a DUI. You can also be required to submit a blood sample if the police obtain a warrant or can require a blood test with an exception to a warrant. If you refuse a breath or blood test, your license will be suspended. Your license can also be suspended if a breath or blood test comes back showing you over the legal limit, which is a BAC of at least .02 percent or any THC.
If you refused to submit to a test, you could lose your license for one year. If you took a test and the result put you over the legal limit, you may lose your license for 90 days.
You can try and avoid an automatic license suspension by asking for a hearing with the DOL. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible since you must make a hearing request within 20 days after your arrest.
Underage DUI Penalties
An underage DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor. It can be punished by:
- Up to 90 days in jail
- Up to a $1,000 fine
- A driver’s license suspension
- An ignition interlock device
- Drug or alcohol assessment and counseling
If you were convicted of an underage DUI before you had your driver’s license or when you were on a permit or intermediate license, then this conviction may impact your ability to get your full driver’s license. As a permit holder, you will not be able to get your driver’s license before you turn 18 years old. As an immediate license holder, you could face an additional suspension and a delay in obtaining your full driving privileges.
Overall, there are no mandatory minimum punishments for a minor DUI. This can work to your benefit when you work with an experienced Seattle underage DUI lawyer who can minimize the consequences of a conviction. With the help of one of our Seattle underage DUI attorneys at Emerald City Law Group, you may be able to avoid a jail, high fines, or a lengthy license suspension.
Collateral Consequences of Underage DUI
Underage DUI charges in Seattle need to be taken seriously in part due to the potential consequences that could derail your life at a young age. If you are convicted of a DUI while under 21, some of the harsh effects include:
- Difficulty gaining admittance to or remaining in college
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for or difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses
- Difficulty getting a job
- Difficulty being approved for an apartment
- Effects on your immigration status, including a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
- Difficulty traveling abroad, including to Canada
A Seattle Underage DUI Lawyer Can Help
For optimal defense against your DUI charge, call 206-973-0407. We can discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation.