If your license has been suspended or revoked, it is unlawful for you to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Washington. This includes if your license privileges have been taken away in any other state as well.
There are a number of reasons why you might have your license suspended beginning with simply failing to produce your license when asked by a police officer, for it for example, when you forgot your license at home.
Driving with a suspended or restricted drivers license can cause you significant legal trouble including extensive jail time and exorbitant fines.
What Happens If You Drive With A Suspended License?
If you are caught driving with a suspended license, your convictions will worsen with each conviction. Upon the first conviction as a repeat offender, you will be subjected to no less than 10 days in jail. If you are convicted a second time, you will be imprisoned for no less than 90 days. And if you are convicted for the third time you will be punished by imprisonment for no less than 180 days.
As you can see, traffic offenses — especially repeat offenses — carry significant penalties and can cause legal repercussions and lasting consequences for the guilty driver.
What Are Common Causes Of License Suspension Or Revocation?
There are a number of ways that you can have your license suspended or revoked. Below are listed just a few examples of when a driver might be faced with license suspension or revocation:
- Failure to respond to a traffic ticket. One of the most common causes of license suspension is unpaid traffic tickets. In general, you must respond to the traffic ticket within 15 days of the traffic violation or face an increase in the penalty.
- Suspension due to a criminal conviction. These criminal convictions are driving-related, often reckless driving or a DUI will land you a criminal conviction and license suspension.
- Failure to reinstate your license following a license suspension. If you do not pay the reinstatement fee and retake your driving test you may be subject to penalties for continuing to operate a vehicle without reinstating your license.
- Being involved in a collision without having insurance. If you are operating a vehicle on the road without insurance coverage and are involved in an accident, you will likely have your license suspended.
- Being a habitual traffic offender. If you have accumulated driving convictions for separate offenses on multiple occasions you will be processed as a repeat offender and will be subjected to increasingly severe consequences.
Driving With A Suspended License
It is considered a criminal offense to drive with a suspended or revoked license. This offense is called DWLS which stands for Driving While License Suspended and has different degrees with each carrying differing consequences.
Here is a description of the three different degrees of driving with a suspended license and the possible consequences they carry:
Third Degree License Suspension
This is the DWLS that you will get for a minor misdemeanor such as an unpaid traffic ticket among other misdemeanors.
Thousands of Washington drivers are charged with a DWLS in the third degree each year and although the consequences are less significant than the other two degrees, accepting the consequences can lead to more severe punishments in the future if you become a repeat offender.
The result of a third-degree driving offense can cost you up to $1,000 in fines or 90 days in jail — although this type of infraction rarely results in jail time.
Second-degree License Suspension
A second-degree DWLS carries significantly higher consequences with up to 364 days in jail and a hefty $5,000 fine. Drivers are usually charged with a DWLS 2nd if they are caught driving with a suspended or revoked license that is not eligible for reinstation (ie. your license was suspended because of a DUI, hit and run, reckless driving, or felony driving crimes. All situations which make your license unable to be reinstated).
Jail time, although less common for DWLS in the second degree is still a possibility and becomes more likely if you have a history of bad driving.
First Degree License Suspension
The most serious of DWLS offenses, a 1st-degree DWLS is considered a gross misdemeanor carrying penalties more severe than either 3rd or 2nd-degree DWLS charges.
This DWLS conviction can result in up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine if it is your first conviction.
Unlike the other two degrees, where you may not receive jail time, if you receive a first-degree DWLS you will spend a mandatory 10 days minimum in jail. If it is your second time being convicted of a 1st-degree DWLS you will be punishable by a minimum of 90 days in jail. And if it is your third conviction you will face no less than 180 days imprisonment.
What To Do If Your License Has Been Suspended Or Revoked
Many Washington drivers are unable to take time off of work or school to deal with a suspended or revoked license. Many drivers choose to risk it and just drive carefully even though they have a suspended license which in turn could result in a DWLS and extensive legal trouble.
Driving with a suspended or revoked license can result in huge monetary penalties and time spent in jail. This is not something you want to gamble with as it will affect your future and your criminal record.
If you have been charged with a DWLS and are facing penalties due to driving with a suspended license, you should get legal help immediately. A DWLS no matter what degree is extremely serious and can be the cause of extreme penalties if accumulated.
Working with a Washington State auto attorney could mean the difference between time spent in jail or not. The possible consequences and penalties resulting from driving with a suspended license are intense and possibly life-changing. As soon as you are facing license suspension you should find an auto attorney to help you navigate the legal minefield of license suspension or revocation.
A Dependable Traffic Attorney Near You
Matthew Leyba, of Leyba Defense, has spent years serving Washington residents who are faced with criminal charges as a result of DWLS convictions and other driving convictions. He is a skilled criminal defense and auto attorney passionate about guiding his clients through the rough legal water towards an ideal legal outcome.
If you are being charged with a DWLS, contact Matthew Leyba of Leyba Defense to start receiving legal help today.