The Consequences of Underage DUI in the State of Washington

What Happens if My Teen Gets a DUI in Washington?

When your teenager turns sixteen, it’s a big deal. For them, it’s an important milestone. It means they’re one step closer to graduation, one year closer to adulthood, and it’s the year when – if they’ve planned well and earned the privilege – they get to start driving. Some will drive the family car, and some enterprising teens will drive their own car.

It’s a big deal for you, too. You may feel liberated when you realize you’re no longer the primary family chauffeur.  Your afternoons and weekends might get easier. You don’t have to do the morning drive to school or sit in the afternoon carpool line.

Your teen has it covered – and they love it.

So do you. But you have to make sure they know one very important thing: they should never, ever drive drunk. And they should never get in a car with a driver who’s been drinking. They need to know it in no uncertain terms: drunk driving kills.

The risks are simply too great.

If you haven’t had the drunk driving talk with your teen yet, now is the time. We’ll help you drive the point home by supplying the statistics on teen driving deaths and teen DUI:

Teen Automobile Accident/DUI Fatalities: 2019

  • Automobile accidents were the leading cause of death for teenagers (16-19) in the U.S.
  • 2,375 teens died in car crashes
    • 1848 of these teens were passengers
    • Mid-May through mid-July are the most dangerous months of the year for teen drivers
    • Saturday and Sunday are the most dangerous days in any given week for teen drivers
    • 9pm-midnight is the most dangerous time window for teen drivers
  • 24% of teen drivers involved in deadly automobile accidents had alcohol in their system
    • 82% of teen drivers with alcohol in their system that exceeded the legal limit
  • 17% of teens nationwide reported riding in the past month with a teen driver who had consumed alcohol
  • 5% of teen drivers self-report drinking and driving at least once in the past thirty days.
    • That’s over million instances of teen DUI per month
  • 85% of teens who report drinking and driving also report binge drinking

It’s clear: drunk driving is a problem. Let’s do the math. Seventeen percent of teens in the U.S. works out to a little over four million teenagers – that’ the number of teens who said they rode in a car with a driver who’d been drinking in 2019.

That means four million teens did not get the basic message.

If death is not a sufficient deterrent, we’ll summarize the laws on underage DUI in the State of Washington so both you and your teen know exactly what might happen – in a legal sense – if they choose to drink and drive.

Underage DUI in the State of Washington

In Washington, underage DUI Laws fall into two categories:

  1. The Underage DUI Law
  2. The Standard DUI Law

These laws are triggered by the results of field breathalyzer tests or blood tests performed if your teen is pulled over and taken into custody.

We’ll offer information on the consequences of arrest and conviction for both these categories of DUI, starting with the underage DUI Law.

The Underage DUI Law in Washington State

The underage DUI law applies when:

  • A test shows an underage individual has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of between 0.02% and 0.07% within two hours of driving
  • A test shows an underage individual has any amount of THC – the active ingredient in marijuana – within two hours of driving

Now we’ll share the consequences of arrest and/or conviction for violating the underage DUI law.

Underage DUI Penalties

Drivers arrested and/pr convicted for underage DUI in Washington face:

  • Administrative penalties. If charged with underage DUI:
    • Drivers have license suspended for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 2 years
    • If convicted after charged, license may be suspended for minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 4 years
  • Criminal penalties. If convicted of underage DUI:
    • Drivers may serve a maximum of 90 days in jail
      • Drivers under 18 serve time in a juvenile detention facility
    • Drivers may pay fines up to $1,000
    • Drivers may receive up to 2 years of DUI probation. Conditions of DUI probation prohibit drivers from:
      • Driving without a valid license
      • Driving without proof of insurance
      • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
      • Driving without an ignition interlock device(iid)
      • Refusing an officer’s request to take a DUI chemical test
    • Violation of DUI probation conditions trigger:
      • Mandatory 30 days jail
      • 30 days of license suspension
      • If license is already suspended, suspension is extended another 30 days

Those are serious consequences. Parents who think their teen is at risk of drinking and driving should show them this list of penalties.

Next, we’ll offer information on the consequences of arrest and conviction for the standard DUI law.

The Standard DUI Law in Washington State

The standard DUI applies when:

  • A test shows an underage individual has a BAC of over 0.08% or more within two hours of driving
  • A test shows an underage individual has a blood THC content of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood (5ng/mL) within two hours of driving

Now we’ll share the consequences of arrest and/or conviction for violating the underage DUI law.

Standard DUI Penalties

Drivers arrested for standard DUI in Washington face different penalties for a first, second, and third offense:

First offense:

    • Administrative penalties. If charged with standard DUI:
      • Drivers have license suspended for a minimum of 2 years
      • If convicted after charged, drivers are required to have an interlock ignition device (IID) on their car for at least one (1) years.
      • If an individual under 16 was present in car, the IID must be in place for 18 months
    • Criminal penalties. If convicted of standard DUI:
      • For a BAC between 0.08% and 0.15%, drivers may serve:
        • 1 to 364 days in jail
        • 30 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
        • Fines between $500 and $5,000
        • 90 days license suspension
      • For a BAC over 0.15%, drivers may serve:
        • 2 days to 364 days in jail
        • 30 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
        • 120 days in Washington’s 24/7 Sobriety Program
        • Fines between $750 and $5,000
        • One year license suspension
      • A judge may also require a person convicted of standard DUI to participate in an educational or drug treatment program. For first offenders under age 16, fines increase to $1,000-$5,000, and jail time increases by a minimum of one (1) day.

Second offense:

      • Administrative penalties. If charged with second standard DUI:
        • Drivers have license suspended for a minimum of 90 days
        • If convicted after charged, drivers are required to have an interlock ignition device on their car for at least 5 years
        • If an individual under 16 was present in car, the IID must be in place for 5.5 years
      • Criminal penalties. If convicted of a second standard DUI:
        • For a BAC between 0.08% and 0.15%, drivers may serve:
          • 30 to 364 days in jail
          • 60 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
          • In lieu of home confinement, a judge can order 4 days in jail and 6 months in Washington’s 24/7 Sobriety Program
          • Fines between $500 and $5,000
          • 90 days license suspension
        • For a BAC over 0.15%, drivers may serve:
          • 45 to 364 days in jail
          • 90 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
          • In lieu of home confinement, a judge can order 6 days in jail and 6 months in Washington’s 24/7 Sobriety Program
          • Fines between $750 and $5,000
          • 900 day license suspension
        • A judge may also require a person convicted of a second standard DUI to participate in and educational or drug treatment program. For second offenders under age 16, fines increase to $2,000-$5,000, jail time increases by a minimum of 5 days, and the court may seize the vehicle involved in the offense.

Third offense:

        • Administrative penalties. If charged with a third standard DUI:
          • Drivers have license suspended for a minimum of 2 years
          • If convicted after charged, drivers are required to have an interlock ignition device on their car for at least ten years.
          • If an individual under 16 was present in car, the IID must be in place for 10.5 years
        • Criminal penalties. If convicted of a third standard DUI:
          • For a BAC between 0.08% and 0.15%, drivers may serve:
            • 90 to 364 days in jail
            • 120 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
            • 6 months in Washington’s 24/7 Sobriety Program
            • In lieu of home confinement, a judge can order 8 additional days in jail
            • Fines between $1,000 and $5,000
            • 3-year license suspension
          • For a BAC over 0.15%, drivers may serve:
            • 120 to 364 days in jail
            • 150 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring
            • 6 months in Washington’s 24/7 Sobriety Program
            • Fines between $1,500 and $5,000
            • 4-year license suspension
          • A judge may also require a person convicted of a third standard DUI to participate in and educational or drug treatment program. For third offenders under age 16, fines increase to $3,000-$10,000, jail time increases by a minimum of 10 days, and the court may seize the vehicle involved in the offense.

Those are serious consequences at any of those levels.

But that’s not all that can happen.

Additional Liability for Related Alcohol Offenses

A police officer can charge a teen with impaired driving without a breathalyzer or blood test. Law requires them to do no more than prove to a judge and jury your teen was driving while impaired. In addition, an officer can charge your teenager with offenses such as underage drinking, possession of an open container in a vehicle, possession of alcohol in public, and possession of alcohol in a car. Each of these charges carries its own set of penalties, from fines to vehicle impound (including responsibility for all related fees) to community service to years of license suspension.

How Parents Can Prevent Underage DUI

To prevent your teen from driving under the influence or riding in a car with another teen under the influence, the first step is simple: talk to your teen about it. Tell them in no uncertain terms that DUI is no joke. We shared the latest information on Washington law. Now it’s your turn to learn more by visiting the following websites and reading their information:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page on teen motor vehicle accidents here.
  • The CDC page on teen DUI here.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration page on DUI here.
  • The Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) page on California underage drinking laws here.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism page on underage drinking here.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to have the drunk driving talk with your teenager. In case everything we provide isn’t enough, here’s what you need to say to your teenager about drinking and driving:

Ten Things to Tell Your Teen About Underage DUI

  1. You shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.
  2. If you do drink, you definitely shouldn’t drive.
  3. You could hurt yourself.
  4. You could hurt someone else.
  5. You could end up on probation, doing community service, in real adult jail, or in juvenile detention.
  6. You can end up paying ridiculous amounts of money on court fees, fines, and lawyers.
  7. You can get your license suspended until you’re eighteen.
  8. You can hinder your chances of getting into your college or university of choice.
  9. You can reduce your chances of getting scholarship assistance from colleges or universities.
  10. You can reduce potential employment and career opportunities in the future.

That said, we recommend making your teen sign the CDC Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. Get it in writing before you hand over the keys. The conversation, the knowledge, and the written agreement may all seem heavy-handed, but that’s fine – do it anyway. Also, many teens rebel at boilerplate agreements. That’s fine, too – they can get over it. And if you’re lucky enough to have a teen who makes good decisions and would never in a million years consider driving drunk, don’t leave it to chance – do it anyway. The consequences of ignorance, in this case, far outweigh any possible argument for not presenting your teen with all the available facts, making sure they understand them and making them agree to never, ever, ever risk driving drunk.

Ready to Get Help for Your Child?

Evolve offers CARF and Joint Commission accredited treatment for teens with mental health disorders and/or substance abuse. Your child will receive the highest caliber of care in our comfortable, home-like residential treatment centers. We offer a full continuum of care, including residential, partial hospitalization/day (PHP), and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP).
To speak with our admissions coordinators, call: (800) 665-4769