So your kid has gotten into trouble in juvenile court in Washington State, huh?  This series of articles is designed to help parents and youth negotiate the court system and to understand what to expect when dealing with criminal charges.



In Washington State, a conviction in juvenile court for either Minor in Possession/Consumption of Alcohol (MIP) or for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana < 40g (POM) can have consqeuences reaching beyong the courtroom.  Both crimes are handled as Misdemeanor offenses in juvenile court and are subject to the following Standard Range for disposition (sentencing):

Probation: Maximum 12 months

Community Service:  Maximum 150 hours

Fine:  Maximum $500 (payable by the youth, not the parent)
Detention: Maximum 30 days (work crew is available in some counties)

Crime Victim's Compensation Fund Fee:   $75

Court Appointed Attorney Fee:  $50



Those are the statutory sanctions permitted under the Standard Range.  However, drug and alcohol charges also carry a DRIVERS LICENSE SUSPENSION.


But, wait!  What if your kid doesn't have a license yet?  The suspension/revocation still applies, even if your child has never had a license.  For a first-time offense, the license is suspended for a MINIMUM of one year OR until the child is 16 years old, WHICHEVER IS LONGER.  So, if your child is almost 16 years old, that child must wait one year past the entry of a guilty plea (or a finding of guilty at trial) to re-instate his or her privilege to drive.


If the conviction is the second or subsequent for a drug or alcohol offense, the suspension is for two years or until the youth's 17th birthday, whichever is longer.  Multiple suspensions run back-to-back, so it is possible that 2 or 3 convictions in juvenile court could have the effect of suspending a young person's ability to even get a driver's license until he or she turns 21 years old!


AND the youth must pay a re-licensing fee to the D.O.L. at the time he or she goes to get the license.


AND the youth must carry the same kind of high-risk auto insurance that a person who has had a D.U.I. on his/her record carries (commonly referred to as SR-22 insurance).


AND the youth must carry that high-risk insurance for THREE YEARS after having the license re-instated, or the license will again be suspended.


This is indeed a financially onerous prospect.  Many of the clients of my parents have referred to it as "nothing more than a scheme to generate revenue."  I can't say that I disagree, but that's not what the State of WA would have us think.  The stated reason for this policy is that it's meant as a deterrant to those kids who would drink or do drugs.  When I disclose this information to my clients and their parents, they always look at me as if to say, "Well, how was I supposed to know that!"  This is exactly the reason I am writing this article.  If parents and youth don't know about these consequences, there is no reason to believe that this legislation will have any impact on how youth in WA State behave when it comes to drugs and alcohol.


Additionally, marijuana charges (or, in some cases, paraphernalia charges) can also have negative consequences in the future if the youth wishes to apply for financial aid for school!  A charge involving drug possession of any kind--felony or misdemeanor--may disqualify the youth from being able to get student loans to go to college, so be sure to check with your attorney before you decide to enter a plea to these kinds of charges.


So remember:  ANY conviction in juvenile court involving drugs or alcohol will result in probation, detention, fines and fees, AND the removal of your privilege to drive.  Want to keep your license?  Don't drink until you are 21!