There are many calls that no parent wants to receive. One of those calls is, “Your child has been drinking and needs to be picked up.” That one gets most parents mad. Another call would be, “Your child has gotten in trouble.” Depending on the trouble there will be different reactions but none of them positive. The most dreaded call is probably, “Your child has been in an accident.” That call can cause terror all the way from hair to toenails. What about the call that mixes all three together? “Your child has been arrested for DUI.” Your jaw drops, hearts starts palpitating, breath is weak, hair may be being pulled.
Underage DUI would be called to any parent when the driver is 17 or under. That call to the parents alone is of course not considered an official penalty though it may, at least at first, upset the driver even more than all the other penalties that are being faced.
Of course, you do not need to be actually a minor to be facing an underage DUI. The drinking age in Washington is 21. So you can also face this problem if you are between 18 and 20. Now, at that age, your parents will not be called unless you make that choice but you will face all the other penalties.
So, now you just may be wondering what it takes to face an underage drinking charge and what those penalties are.
If you are like most people you are fully aware of our state’s blood alcohol limit of .08. After all it is posted on several traffic informational signs along the road. This is the same limit that you will see on television or hear on the radio – usually when there is a larger than normal public concern over the issue of drunk driving. So you may have made the logical conclusion that that was the limit that you needed to be careful to not reach.
But if you are under 21 then this is an inaccurate conclusion. As you know it is not only illegal for you to be drinking and driving; it is illegal for you to be drinking. So the federal government has placed a minimum of .02 and, of course, this state follows the federal guidelines. So that much lower limit is what you need to be careful not to reach. This limit could easily be reached or possibly even exceeded by just one beer or glass of wine. In fact it might even be reached by actual legal substance such as mouthwash or cough syrup.
So you have a lower DUI limit to worry about. You also have large penalties to face. Fortunately, thanks to your youth, the legislature has only made this a misdemeanor, not a gross misdemeanor like a regular DUI. Therefore your maximum in jail is 90 days and your fine maximum is $1,000. However, where you face pretty severe penalties, is in terms of your license suspension which must be a minimum of 90 days. You may be required to attend drug and alcohol classes. You will probably be required to get high risk SR-22 insurance which will undoubtedly cost significantly more than your current plan.
You will now have a minor DUI on your record. This is better than a DUI in that it does not count as a prior for future DUIs and it can possibly get vacated (changed to a dismissal) on your record. This is at a time in your life when you are probably considering the possibilities of your future life. Most of it is ahead of you and you have now reached legal adulthood (or are close to it). You may be considering going to college. You will be facing questions about your record as you fill out the applications for both admission and financial aid. You may want to just enter the workforce. Job applications also ask about your record. You may want a loan for a purchase such as a new car or engagement ring and once again you will be filling out an application that would include questions about your record. Does a criminal record guarantee that your applications will be ignored. No, it does not but it does nothing to help your chances.
Remember what was said above about it being illegal for you to drink at all. Besides DUI there are other charges, such as minor in possession, that you may be facing.
We are here to help avoid or minimize these consequences. Do not let this charge ruin you or your child’s future. Get the help of a Pierce County / Tacoma DUI defense attorney. Call or e-mail the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.