We handle a large number of cases involving individuals charged with controlled substance offenses. For persons under 21, these charges often come with the added threat of the loss of your driving privileges. The penalties for some common charges faced by minors are set forth below.

Beginning in the Fall of 2013, the Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, began handling first-time offenses for Minor In Possession of Alcohol and/or Minor Possessing Marijuana through a “Pre-Charging Diversion Program.” Through this program, an individual arrested for those crimes can enter into an agreement to pay a certain sum of money (usually $350), perform community service (usually 4 hours), complete Alcohol-Drug Information School, and commit no crime for a period of time (usually 6 months), and in exchange the individual will not be charged with a crime. A typical letter one may receive, and a typical Agreement, can be found here. In general, this is a good program for offenders, as it allows them to avoid having criminal charges filed against them, which would stay on their record potentially indefinitely. We would be happy to discuss your individual situation.

A common misconception is that you must be in actual possession of alcohol in order to be convicted of MIP. That is not true. You can be convicted of MIP in two ways: if you are under 21 and (1) in actual possession of alcohol, or (2) exhibiting the effects of alcohol in a public place. MIP is a criminal offense – you face jail time and substantial fines if convicted. In addition, if you are under 18, you face a 90-day suspension of your driving privileges for your first MIP offense, and a one-year suspension for a subsequent offense. See RCW 66.44.270; RCW 46.20.265; RCW 13.40.265.
Based on Washington State’s recently enacted Initiative 502, persons age 21 and over may possess up to one ounce of marijuana. But for individuals under the age of 21, possession of marijuana is still a crime and can result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension. The suspension applies regardless of whether you were in a vehicle at the time of the offense. See RCW 46.20.265; RCW 69.50.420; RCW 69.50.412.
A driver under the age of 21 with a breath-alcohol level greater than .02 but less than .08 is subject to criminal penalties including jail time and substantial fines, as well as revocation of his driver’s license. If your breath alcohol level is greater than .08. you will be charged with DUI. Thus, anyone under the age of 21 is faced with the prospect of license revocation if he drives following the consumption of even one or two beers, even though he is not convicted of or even charged with DUI. This offense is not the same as DUI – it is a misdemeanor as opposed to a gross misdemeanor – but it is still a criminal conviction with severe consequences. For a first offense, a 90-day license suspension is mandatory. For a subsequent offense, the license suspension will last for one year or until the driver turns 21, whichever is longer. See RCW 46.61.503; RCW 46.20.308; RCW 46.20.3101.