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Driver Under 21 Consuming Alcohol (“Minor DUI”)
The crime of "driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol," sometimes called a "minor DUI," is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by 0-90 days in jail and a $0-$1000 fine. If you are under age 21 and are either driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle with a breath or blood alcohol content of 0.02 – 0.079 within 2 hours of the time of the incident, you can be arrested for this charge.
A “minor DUI” conviction carries no mandatory jail, fines, or ignition interlock device requirement. If you are convicted of a “minor DUI” and face the unfortunate situation of later being accused of a DUI / DWI charge, then the prior “minor DUI” is not considered a “prior” for purposes of mandatory penalty enhancements in the new case. However, a judge would likely take it into consideration at sentencing.
Mandatory License Suspension with Minor DUI
An arrest for a "minor DUI" triggers a mandatory license suspension of at least 90 days by the Department of Licensing. This is based on Washington's Implied Consent Law. You can (and we recommend should) contest this suspension by filing a request for a hearing with the Department of Licensing. This must be filed with the Department of Licensing within 20 days of the arrest for you to obtain a hearing. More information on DOL hearings can be found at: DOL Hearings.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a minor DUI does not typically have any adverse affects on your status in the United States. However, we still recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before pleading guilty to any criminal charge if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol — Penalties.
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a person is guilty of driving or being in physical control of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol if the person operates or is in physical control of a motor vehicle within this state and the person:
(a) Is under the age of twenty-one;
(b) Has, within two hours after operating or being in physical control of the motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of at least 0.02 but less than the concentration specified in RCW 46.61.502, as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506.
(2) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (1) of this section which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after the time of driving or being in physical control and before the administration of an analysis of the person's breath or blood to cause the defendant's alcohol concentration to be in violation of subsection (1) of this section within two hours after driving or being in physical control. The court shall not admit evidence of this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to the earlier of: (a) Seven days prior to trial; or (b) the omnibus or pretrial hearing in the case of the defendant's 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 may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged driving or being in physical control, a person had an alcohol concentration in violation of subsection (1) of this section.
(4) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.