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What Happens if I Get Caught Driving on a Suspended License?

Posted by Steve Karimi | Jul 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Driving on a suspended license ("DWLS") in Washington State is the most charged criminal traffic offense in the state. Although DUIs typically come to mind whenever one's license is suspended, there are many reasons one's license may be suspended, ranging from: failure to pay traffic citations, excessive infractions within a certain time period (ie. speeding tickets), failure to pay registration fees, failure to file proof of car insurance with the state, or DUIs. To emphasize, while the acts that have caused your license to be suspended may only be infractions (ie. speeding tickets), driving on a suspended license is a crime under RCW 46.20.342 and you can be arrested for it.

You can face suspensions from both the Washington Department of Licensing and from criminal convictions, such as:

  • 60 days if you receive 6 moving violations within 12 months.
  • 90 days to 4 years if you are convicted of a DUI.
  • 90 days to 2 years if you're arrested for a DUI.
  • 30 days if you are convicted of reckless driving.

There are three degrees of DWLS

DWLS First Degree

DWSL is the most severe charge because the reason for suspension was for being a Habitual Traffic Offender. It is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and ad $5,000 fine. More importantly, DWSL in the first degree comes with a mandatory jail sentence

  • 10 days for the first conviction
  • 90 says for a second conviction
  • 180 days for a third conviction.

DWLS Second Degree

If you have a DWLS second degree charge, it means you were accused of driving on a suspended license that was not eligible for reinstatement (ie. DUIs, reckless driving). It is a gross misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and $5,000 fine. However, there is no mandatory jail sentence although it is possible prosecutors will seek that.

DWLS Third Degree

A DWLS in the third degree charge means you were driving on a suspended license while your license was eligible for reinstatement (ie. you have unpaid traffic fines). It is the lesser of all the charges, and can be reduced to an infraction. It is punishable by more fines.

“Let My Former Experience as a Prosecutor Work for You”

Because DWSL is a criminal offense, there is great value in keeping this charge off your record. Most people who have contacted us for help with this issue were unaware of the consequences of an innocent mistake such as forgetting your license at home. When you understand the substantial amount of money in fines and fees, and consequences of DWLS, you will understand how important it is to work with an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of traffic defense in Washington State. Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi has been breaking down criminal traffic cases for decades, and will seek to dismiss your charges whenever possible. Call 206-621-8777 today to schedule a free initial consultation. 24-hour-a-day call service is available at 206-660-6200.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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