Skip to main content

I recieved a 3rd DWLS in the 3rd degree for unpaid tickets. Is their any chance of not going to jail with an atourney present?

Seattle, WA |

On the second offense I got my license back and entered a payment plan for paying the tickets. Got pulled over about 2 months ago for having a suspended license unknowingly. What are my options and what will help me in court in staying out of jail. Today I plead not gulity at my arraingnment. Thank you.


+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


You have the right to avoid making incriminating statements in writing on the internet. You should talk with your lawyer. Sentencing can vary, but it looks like your third conviction for DWLS is basically a guarantee for ten days in jail. RCW 46.65.020 defines the third conviction as "habitual offender" ground and RCW 46.20.342 sets forth the ten day minimum.
A really good lawyer can be very helpful.

Best wishes.


Mr. Kelly is partially correct. You do not need to make incriminating statements, and being charged with any crime is a good reason to hire an attorney.

However, DWLS 3rd does not county for habitual traffic offender (HTO) status. HTO status is defined by RCW 46.65.020, which requires three or more fairly serious vehicular criminal convictions. DWLS 2nd, which generally arises from a DUI or similar conviction, can lead to HTO status. DWLS 2nd involves a license suspension for a period which you cannot reinstate. DWLS 3rd is defined as having a suspended license, but being eligible for reinstatement. DWLS 3rd is described in more detail at
RCW 46.20.342(1)(c), DWLS 3rd generally includes unpaid tickets.

The good news is that based on what you've said, you are likely not vulnerable to HTO status. The bad news is that DWLS 3rd is still a crime, with a maximum penalty of $1,000 and 90 days in jail. There is never a guarantee to an outcome, but you will almost certainly increase your chances of staying out of jail by hiring a local attorney. Good luck.


There is no mandatory jail sanction on DWLS 3rd. Obviously, you are aware that the possibility of a judge ording jail goes up with the number of prior charges and will go up if you are on probation for any of the prior cases.

Sounds like the first thing you need to do is get organized. By that, I mean you should immediately two things. First, call DOL. You should verify exactly what you'll need to do to get your license back AND verify they have the best mailing address for you. They can be reached at (360) 902-3900. Once you have the current snapshot, you should then contact any courts in which you think you MAY have had a ticket. If you have any old tickets that have not been addressed, they may end up going to collections and re-suspending you without you knowing about it.

Bottom line, any time someone is facing a possibility of a jail sanction, they should speak with a criminal defense attorney about their specific situation. Entering a "not guilty" plea is the first step and reinstating your license will help. Only an attorney who is familiar with the court where your charge is being prosecuted can give you a good sense of how your case may play out.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer