Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Tacoma, Washington Consequences of Drinking and Driving Under 21


It’s well known that driving under the influence of alcohol puts everyone on the road at risk. Adults over the age of 21 might have more experience with limiting themselves and knowing when to get a designated driver, but teenagers have much less experience in these areas which could be the cause for the surprising statistics.

For this reason, drinking and driving standards are stricter and DUI penalties are harsher for people under the age of 21 in Washington.

So, what happens to drivers under the age of 21 if they are issued a DUI?

Similar to drivers 21 or older who are charged, they will receive a fine ranging from $850 to $5,000 dollars, depending on the severity of the defense. But underage drivers in Tacoma will be charged if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02% or higher. Compare that to the BAC limit of .08% for of-age drivers and you’ll notice that a very small amount of alcohol can get someone under 21 in big trouble.

If you get a DUI under the age of 21, and it’s your first offense, you’ll also likely have your license suspended for 90 days administratively. But it doesn’t end there: in addition to the charge for driving under the influence, an underage drinker could be charged with a laundry list of alcohol-related offenses on top of the DUI.

  • Distributing alcohol to other minors (were there passengers in the car who were also underage and under the influence?)
  • Minor in possession of alcohol or drugs
  • Child endangerment law violation
  • Possession of false identification (if a fake ID was used to purchase alcohol)
  • And more
  • If you’re convicted of any of these charges in Washington, you may be required to include this information on college applications, job applications, and requests for financial aid in the future—if you fail to report the information, it could result in loss of rights, loss of financial aid, and even charges of perjury.

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If you’ve been charged with an underage DUI in Tacoma, Washington, you might be thinking: How am I going to get through all of this? You’ve still got your whole life ahead of you. Maybe you’re finishing high school, or working on a college degree, or already have a full-time job and the last thing you’re able to worry about is a DUI charge and its consequences. If you’ve been charged with an underage DUI, in order to avoid the harshest punishment (which can include up 90 days of jail time on the first offense), it is in your best interest to obtain legal representation.

At the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden in Tacoma, Washington, we come to the defense of anyone charged with DUI.

We know that driving under the influence knows no boundaries of age, sex, race, or economic status. We know everyone makes mistakes and that people under the age of 21 are at greater risk for facing especially harsh consequences for those mistakes.

The truth is, you have legal options to potentially soften the blow of these consequences.

Our experienced DUI attorneys can be with you from day one to explain all your options and help you navigate the confusing and sometimes scary terrain of a DUI charge. The most important thing to know throughout this process is that you are not alone, there are people who can and will help you get through the process as smoothly as possible. The lawyers at the Law Office ofBarbara A. Bowden specialize in these cases and we have the experience necessary to make a strong defense on your behalf. The sooner you can an attorney representation, the sooner you’ll feel the relief of a strong defense.

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There are a few more things you should know if you’ve been charged with an underage DUI. Besides fines and license suspension, you’ll likely have to attend drug/alcohol and driver’s education classes. In addition, you could have to serve community service—sometimes community service replaces your fine, sometimes it’s in addition to the fine. Finally, the driver is subject to a probationary period of two years, even if he or she turns 21 a week after their charged.

What about your insurance? That can be affected by a DUI charge in Tacoma, too. After an underage DUI, some insurance companies terminate a policy or might refuse to renew one when the time comes. Most of the time, companies just raise the cost of the monthly premium by $100 to $200 for a higher risk policy and that increase stays in place for three to five years.

After reading all of this, it might seem like you’ll spending a lot of time and money on account of one underage DUI offense. But, if you retain an experienced DUI defense attorney, you’ll spend a lot less time and money on this offense than you would if you choose to represent yourself. Without representation and full knowledge and understanding of DUI law in Washington, you could end up spending time in jail for a BAC barely over the limit. The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden are here to keep that from happening.

If you have questions or concerns about underage DUI in Tacoma, Washington don’t hesitate to contact us at (253)284-5790.

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