reason: driving while my vehicle's tab sticker was expired in CA a year ago. i got a ticket, but it was only a fixing ticket, there was no fine to be paid. i got my new tab but did not prove to the court i got it renew. i suddenly got a letter from a collection agency, saying i have to pay $768 and that my license will be suspended until i have that fine paid off. i was a student, i did not have such money to pay. when i finally have the money to pay, they've already sent my case to the state franchise tax board. i tried calling to pay, but it is impossible to reach them, they would just close me off the line.
before i got the chance to pay it off, i was caught dwls in WA. and was charged with 2nd degree. i would think that it would be 3rd degree since it is my first time being caught?
DUI / DWI Attorney
The degree of your charge has nothing to do with prior offenses, but rather, with the nature of the suspension. A 2nd degree charge can mean your license was suspended as a result of a DUI or some mandatory Department of Licensing action. You definitely need to consult an attorney as soon as possible regarding this case, as a conviction for a 2nd degree charge can re-suspend your license for a year.
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DUI / DWI Attorney
After reading both your question and your explanation, you are right to be confused. If the Washington suspension was somehow based on the California suspension, you are correct that the charge should be DWLS 3. DWLS 3 is the appropriate charge when you are suspended but eligible to be reinstated. Is it possible that you are suspended in Washington for another reason? DWLS 2 is the appropriate charge if you have had your license suspended based upon some criminal traffic incident or administrative suspension, and you were caught driving prior to being eligible for reinstatement.
DWLS cases can become a bit of a quagmire. Contacting a criminal traffic attorney in your area and fully explaining the facts to him or her probably wouldn't be a bad idea.