Driving on a suspended license

King County Criminal Lawyer

Driving on a suspended license

It is unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Washington while the person’s license is suspended or revoked. Driving on a suspended license is probably the most common driving offense seen by a King County criminal lawyer.

The Washington state offense of driving on a suspended license (DWLS) is divided into three different degrees or levels of severity.

First degree DWLS

A habitual traffic offender who drives while his or her license is revoked is guilty of first degree DWLS. A habitual traffic offender is a person with three major moving violations or 20 moving violations within a five-year period.

DWLS 1st is a serious offense with a stiff penalty—a mandatory jail sentence. The offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. First degree DWLS carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days for a first conviction, 90 days for a second conviction, and 180 days for a third or subsequent offense. In addition, conviction of first degree DWLS is itself a major moving violation that counts toward habitual traffic offender status.

Second degree DWLS

A person who drives while his or her license is suspended or revoked (other than a habitual traffic offender) and not presently eligible for reinstatement is guilty of second degree DWLS. Second degree DWLS is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Unlike first degree DWLS, there is no mandatory minimum jail time for this offense. Common examples include individuals who drive while their license is suspended for a DUI or reckless driving conviction.

Third degree DWLS

A person who drives while his or her license is suspended or revoked, at a time when the person is eligible to have the license reinstated is guilty of third degree DWLS. Common examples include individuals who drive while their license is suspended for unpaid traffic tickets, unpaid child support, or cancelled insurance. Also included are individuals who drive when their suspension period is over, but who have not had their licenses reinstated.

Third degree DWLS is the most common traffic offense in the state. A favorable resolution (dismissal or reduction to an infraction) is usually possible once the driver gets his or her license reinstated.

Get help with your DWLS charge from a skilled King County criminal lawyer

If you have been charged with driving on a suspended license, our attorney is available to evaluate your case. She offers a free initial consultation, personal attention, and a vigorous defense at an affordable price. To arrange for a free consultation with a King County criminal lawyer, simply complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page, or, if you prefer, email her or call her toll-free number.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Stephen Ladas.