DUI and other driving related charges can have serious consequences. Even a first time offender can face steep fines, jail time and license suspension. In addition, an offender with prior DUI or other driving convictions can be subject to greater penalties. A driver can face even steeper consequences if they are convicted of a certain amount of driving offenses in a given period of time. This is referred to as being a habitual offender. A habitual offender status will lead to license revocation for 4 years or more. If you have been accused of DUI in Washington and have multiple driving offenses on your record, you could be facing habitual offender status. In these circumstances it is more important than ever to speak to an experienced defense attorney.
What is a Habitual Offender?
Most states have laws that apply to those who have been convicted of a number of driving offenses in a relatively short period of time. This is often called a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) law. In Washington, the HTO law is explained under RCW 46.65.020. It states that under certain conditions a driving will lose their driving privileges and be required to appear in a hearing in order to get their license reinstated.
Under the law, there are 2 situations which can lead to receiving habitual offender status in Washington. They are as follows:
- Have been convicted of 20 or more moving violations listed under WAC 308-104-160 within a 5 year period. These include everything from DUI to racing to speeding to driving without a headlight. Additionally, at least 3 of these violations must have occurred within the past 365 days.
- Have been convicted of 3 or more violations under RCW 46.65.020 within a 5 year period. These offenses include any combination of these:
- Vehicular homicide
- Vehicular assault
- Driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or drugs (DUI)
- Being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug
- Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license, permit, or privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked
- Failure of the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person to immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident
- Reckless driving
- Attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle
This means that anyone arrested for suspicion of DUI that has 19 moving violation convictions or 2 convictions for any of the above offenses within the past 5 years could be subject to habitual offender status if convicted. This, of course, will be in addition to the penalties of their convictions. For this reason, it is vital that you contact a Seattle DUI attorney right away in order to fight your charges.
Habitual Offender Penalties in Seattle
According to Washington HTO law, a person who is ruled as a habitual traffic offender will have their licenses revoked for a minimum of 4 years. After 4 years, the offender may petition to have their license reinstated either completely or partially. The Washington State Department of Licensing lists the following criteria necessary for requesting a reinstatement hearing:
- You've been in HTO status for at least 4 years.
- There's no evidence you've driven within the past 2 years.
- You've met all alcohol requirements (if any).
- You aren't suspended for non-compliance with treatment.
- At least 1 year has passed since any previous reinstatement requests have been denied.
If you have been ruled a habitual offender and would like to learn more about getting a reinstatement hearing, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi for a free consultation.
Habitual Offender Stay Hearings
In some circumstances, a habitual offender status can be avoided even if you are convicted of 3 or more offenses. In order to fight HTO status, a stay hearing must be requested. The Washington State Department of Licensing will grant a hearing in cases where substance dependency is involved. The Department states the following criteria for requesting a stay hearing:
- You've been assessed as “substance dependent” (“substance abuse” or “insufficient evidence of substance abuse/dependence” doesn't qualify). To prove you meet this requirement, you must contact your assessing agency and have them submit a completed Assessment/Treatment Report for DSHS Certified Agencies to our Alcohol Section.
- Since the last offense, you've completed a treatment program or have completed the first 60 days of treatment with current compliance. To prove you meet this requirement, you must contact your treatment agency and have them submit a completed Assessment/Treatment Report for DSHS Certified Agencies to our Alcohol Section.
- You aren't in HTO status for violating a previous stay or probation.
- The offenses leading to your license revocation were caused by or the result of alcoholism or drug addiction.
Seattle Habitual Offender Defense Lawyer
Habitual Offender status is a serious issue that will lead to the loss of your driving ability. For you have been accused of DUI in Washington and have multiple previous convictions for driving offenses on your record, it is important to speak to a DUI lawyer. Only by fighting your charges and avoiding conviction can you make sure that you can also avoid HTO status and license suspension. Call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi to find out more about your defense options.