Driving on a Suspended License (DWLS) Defense in Washington

Driving on a suspended license (DWLS) in Washington is the most charged criminal traffic offense in the state. That is likely because of the countless number of ways an individual can have his license suspended and the difficulties involved with getting the license out of suspension. 

The crime of DWLS falls in to three categories or "degrees".  Each has its own peculiarities and level of severity.  Regardless of the degree charged the goals remains the same. We will help you avoid the conviction for the criminal charge but perhaps more importantly assist in getting the drivers license restored. See below for a complete discussion on the separate DWLS charges. Or call or email one of our Washington DWLS attorneys for a free consultation at any time. 

DWLS First Degree

This is the most severe DWLS charge in the State of Washington.  A person who has been charged with DWLS 1 is being accused of driving after her license was suspended for being an Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). It s a gross misdemeanor meaning it is punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. What separates first degree DWLS from the other two is that it carries a mandatory jail sentence. For a first conviction one must serve 10 days in jail. On a second conviction, the mandatory sentence is 90 days. On a third or subsequent conviction for DWLS in the first degree, the jail sentence would be 180 days. These mandatory minimum jail sentences make DWLS 1 a more serious charge than DUI.

In addition to the jail, DWLS in the first degree is also a major moving driving offense. That means that a conviction could lead to a who new period of HTO suspension. If you have been charged with DWLS 1, do not hesitate to call us. Our attorneys are experienced DWLS lawyers. We've helped countless people not only beat this charge, but get their driving privileges back as well.

 

DWLS Second Degree

One charged with second degree DWLS is accused of driving while on a suspension other than an HTO while not be eligible to reinstate his driving privileges. Common examples of this include people who have had their license suspended due to a DUI conviction or administrative sanction or after a Reckless Driving suspension.  There is no mandatory jail but it is a gross misdemeanor so it is punishable by up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine.  Prosecutor's will ask for jail and judges will routinely give jail to someone convicted of DWLS 2 if the person has a significant record of driving on a suspended license.

This is a charge that is very beatable if you do the right things. Contact one of our Washington DWLS lawyers for a free consultation and to talk about your specific situation.

 

DWLS Third Degree

This is the most common criminal offense in the state of Washington. DWLS in the Third Degree is simply driving on a suspended license at a time when the person was eligible to have the license reinstated. The most common examples of this are when a person's license is suspended due to an unpaid traffic ticket, unpaid child support or not getting reinstated after a period of suspension.  This probably is the most beatable charge in the Washington. Judges and prosecutors are primarily concerned with citizens being licensed and insured before they drive. Assuming the driver's criminal history is not significant and she gets her license reinstated, this charge will usually be reduced to an infraction if not dismissed completely.

Feel free to consult with one of our Washington DWLS lawyers to find out more.

 

 

 

RCW 46.20.342 - Driving while license invalidated – Penalties - Extension of invalidation.

    (1) It is unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle in this state while that person is in a suspended or revoked status or when his or her privilege to drive is suspended or revoked in this or any other state. Any person who has a valid Washington driver's license is not guilty of a violation of this section.

     (a) A person found to be an habitual offender under chapter 46.65 RCW, who violates this section while an order of revocation issued under chapter 46.65 RCW prohibiting such operation is in effect, is guilty of driving while license suspended or revoked in the first degree, a gross misdemeanor. Upon the first such conviction, the person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten days. Upon the second conviction, the person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ninety days. Upon the third or subsequent conviction, the person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one hundred eighty days. If the person is also convicted of the offense defined in RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, when both convictions arise from the same event, the minimum sentence of confinement shall be not less than ninety days. The minimum sentence of confinement required shall not be suspended or deferred. A conviction under this subsection does not prevent a person from petitioning for reinstatement as provided by RCW 46.65.080.

     (b) A person who violates this section while an order of suspension or revocation prohibiting such operation is in effect and while the person is not eligible to reinstate his or her driver's license or driving privilege, other than for a suspension for the reasons described in (c) of this subsection, is guilty of driving while license suspended or revoked in the second degree, a gross misdemeanor. This subsection applies when a person's driver's license or driving privilege has been suspended or revoked by reason of:

     (i) A conviction of a felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used;

     (ii) A previous conviction under this section;

     (iii) A notice received by the department from a court or diversion unit as provided by RCW 46.20.265, relating to a minor who has committed, or who has entered a diversion unit concerning an offense relating to alcohol, legend drugs, controlled substances, or imitation controlled substances;

     (iv) A conviction of RCW 46.20.410, relating to the violation of restrictions of an occupational driver's license, a temporary restricted driver's license, or an ignition interlock driver's license;

     (v) A conviction of RCW 46.20.345, relating to the operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license;

     (vi) A conviction of RCW 46.52.020, relating to duty in case of injury to or death of a person or damage to an attended vehicle;

     (vii) A conviction of RCW 46.61.024, relating to attempting to elude pursuing police vehicles;

     (viii) A conviction of RCW 46.61.500, relating to reckless driving;

     (ix) A conviction of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, relating to a person under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs;

     (x) A conviction of RCW 46.61.520, relating to vehicular homicide;

     (xi) A conviction of RCW 46.61.522, relating to vehicular assault;

     (xii) A conviction of RCW 46.61.527(4), relating to reckless endangerment of roadway workers;

     (xiii) A conviction of RCW 46.61.530, relating to racing of vehicles on highways;

     (xiv) A conviction of RCW 46.61.685, relating to leaving children in an unattended vehicle with motor running;

     (xv) A conviction of RCW 46.61.740, relating to theft of motor vehicle fuel;

     (xvi) A conviction of RCW 46.64.048, relating to attempting, aiding, abetting, coercing, and committing crimes;

     (xvii) An administrative action taken by the department under chapter 46.20 RCW; or

     (xviii) A conviction of a local law, ordinance, regulation, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state, the federal government, or any other state, of an offense substantially similar to a violation included in this subsection.

     (c) A person who violates this section when his or her driver's license or driving privilege is, at the time of the violation, suspended or revoked solely because (i) the person must furnish proof of satisfactory progress in a required alcoholism or drug treatment program, (ii) the person must furnish proof of financial responsibility for the future as provided by chapter 46.29 RCW, (iii) the person has failed to comply with the provisions of chapter 46.29 RCW relating to uninsured accidents, (iv) the person has failed to respond to a notice of traffic infraction, failed to appear at a requested hearing, violated a written promise to appear in court, or has failed to comply with the terms of a notice of traffic infraction or citation, as provided in RCW 46.20.289, (v) the person has committed an offense in another state that, if committed in this state, would not be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the person's driver's license, (vi) the person has been suspended or revoked by reason of one or more of the items listed in (b) of this subsection, but was eligible to reinstate his or her driver's license or driving privilege at the time of the violation, or (vii) the person has received traffic citations or notices of traffic infraction that have resulted in a suspension under RCW 46.20.267 relating to intermediate drivers' licenses, or any combination of (i) through (vii), is guilty of driving while license suspended or revoked in the third degree, a misdemeanor.

     (2) Upon receiving a record of conviction of any person or upon receiving an order by any juvenile court or any duly authorized court officer of the conviction of any juvenile under this section, the department shall:

     (a) For a conviction of driving while suspended or revoked in the first degree, as provided by subsection (1)(a) of this section, extend the period of administrative revocation imposed under chapter 46.65 RCW for an additional period of one year from and after the date the person would otherwise have been entitled to apply for a new license or have his or her driving privilege restored; or

     (b) For a conviction of driving while suspended or revoked in the second degree, as provided by subsection (1)(b) of this section, not issue a new license or restore the driving privilege for an additional period of one year from and after the date the person would otherwise have been entitled to apply for a new license or have his or her driving privilege restored; or

     (c) Not extend the period of suspension or revocation if the conviction was under subsection (1)(c) of this section. If the conviction was under subsection (1)(a) or (b) of this section and the court recommends against the extension and the convicted person has obtained a valid driver's license, the period of suspension or revocation shall not be extended.

[2008 c 282 § 4; 2004 c 95 § 5; 2001 c 325 § 3; 2000 c 115 § 8; 1999 c 274 § 3; 1993 c 501 § 6; 1992 c 130 § 1; 1991 c 293 § 6. Prior: 1990 c 250 § 47; 1990 c 210 § 5; 1987 c 388 § 1; 1985 c 302 § 3; 1980 c 148 § 3; prior: 1979 ex.s. c 136 § 62; 1979 ex.s. c 74 § 1; 1969 c 27 § 2; prior: 1967 ex.s. c 145 § 52; 1967 c 167 § 7; 1965 ex.s. c 121 § 43.]

Notes:

     Rules of court:  Bail in criminal traffic offense cases -- Mandatory appearance --      CrRLJ 3.2.

     Effective date -- 2008 c 282: See note following RCW 46.20.308.

     Finding -- 2000 c 115: See note following RCW 46.20.075.

     Effective date -- 2000 c 115 §§ 1-10: See note following RCW 46.20.075.

     Severability -- 1990 c 250: See note following RCW 46.16.301.

     Effective date -- Expiration date -- 1987 c 388: "Sections 1 through 8 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 1988. The director of licensing shall take such steps as are necessary to insure that this act is implemented on its effective date. Sections 2 through 7 of this act shall expire on July 1, 1993." [1987 c 388 § 13.]

     Severability -- 1987 c 388: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [1987 c 388 § 16.]

     Effective date -- 1980 c 148: See note following RCW 46.10.090.

     Effective date -- Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 136: See notes following RCW 46.63.010.

     Impoundment of vehicle: RCW 46.55.113.