The 1989 Legislature passed changes in the law on minors in possession of drugs and/or alcohol (MIP). The law became effective May 7, and adds special sanctions for 18-20 year olds convicted of drug possession. The 1988 law covered ages 13-17 only. The 1994 Legislature passed changes in the law on minors in possession of a firearm. When a juvenile is found to have committed ANY offense while armed with a firearm, or for illegal possession of a firearm, the Department of Licensing is immediately notified. In all cases, the penalty is automatic revocation of the driving privilege, or ability to obtain a license.
The Department of Licensing is concerned that parents and minors understand the consequences. Joan Baird, Assistant Director for Driver Services, said, "It appears that MIP and DWI are related in the public's perception. With a DWI, you must be operating a motor vehicle. A minor in possession will have the driving privilege revoked whether or not a vehicle is involved. The minor could be at home, at a party, or just walking down the street." She said the Department has issued 3,500 MIP revocations in the last year. Baird emphasized the following points:
- When a person signs a Diversion Agreement regarding an alcohol, drug or firearm offense, or a court finds a person guilty of such offense, it must be reported to the Department of Licensing.
- For the first offense, the privilege to drive is revoked for one year from the date the contract was signed or until age 17, whichever is longer. For second and subsequent offenses, the revocation is two years or until age 18, whichever is longer.
- On the first MIP of alcohol and/or drug offense, the minor is eligible for early reinstatement 90 days after the 16th birthday; or 90 days after the judgment is entered or the Diversion agreement is signed, whichever is later. This is not automatic, but granted at the discretion of the court or the Diversion program. There is NO early reinstatement provision from a firearm-related offense.
- On second and subsequent offenses, early reinstatement cannot take place until the juvenile turns 17; or one year after the date judgment is entered or the Diversion agreement is signed, whichever is later.
- Those who have a driver's license or permit must surrender it to the department and occupational licenses cannot be issued. For each conviction of driving while revoked, the revocation may be extended one year.
- When minors become eligible to obtain a driver's license or permit, they must take the written and driving tests, even if they have taken them before. In addition to the cost of the license, a $20 reinstatement fee is charged.
For questions pertaining to suspensions and reinstatements, contact the Department of Licensing in Olympia at 360-902-3900.