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My son was ticketed with DWLS 3rd degree -- drove on suspended license to see grandpa before they pulled the plug at hospital...

Bellevue, WA |
Attorney answers 3


Your statement indicates your son is guilty.
Different attorneys cost different amounts of money.

[In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.]


Although this is technically a crime (simple misdemeanor) DWLS 3rd is at the lowest crime level, so there is no mandatory jail time involved and no further license suspension with DOL if he is convicted of the DWLS 3 (unlike DWLS 2nd or DWLS 1st). It is highly unlikely a judge would put him in jail unless he has multiple driving with suspended license convictions on his record or he is on probation somewhere for a serious offense like DUI. If so, he will probably get a review hearing notice on the original case as a result of this new DWLS 3 which would be serious (on that case).

You do not say how he got to the point of having his license suspended originally. If it was for unpaid traffic tickets, unpaid child support, etc. then he is probably going to be ok and is eligible to get his license back once he deals with the underlying cause (pays off the tickets or at least gets on a payment plan because that is what DWLS 3rd is - when someone has their license suspended but is eligible to get it back once they clear some hurdles) gets liability insurance, and pays DOL a reinstatement fee. For the DWLS 3 (unless he has a horrific record) assuming he can get his license in hand before October 30th and walk into court with it and proof of insurance I do not believe he needs an attorney for the DWLS 3. Most courts (again you don't say which court he is in) are most interested in just seeing he is re-licensed and if he walks in with what I mentioned they will probably just fine him $25.00 and close the case. If, on the other hand, he is on probation in another court for something more serious (DUI, Reckless Driving, etc) and this DWLS 3 in this court triggers a review in another court, he had better get an attorney for that review.

If he cannot get his license back (so he can walk into court with it) by October 30th, he should still show up on October 30th, tell the judge he is working on getting his license back, explain why he does not yet have it and tell the judge how much more time he needs to get it. Most judges will give him one continuance to make that happen but only one so he better be working on it and ask the judge for enough time on the continuance so he can for certain get his license. I'm thinking he should ask for 30-60 days to return.

Also, if the judge gives him the continuance, he better not get caught driving again until he has his license in hand. The judge will certainly make "no further driving without a license and insurance" a condition of his release and the continuance. If the judge does that for him and he gets caught doing it again before he returns to court, he will probably get a trip to the "Gray Bar Hotel" next time around. If that happens, then he would want an attorney with him at that time. But for now, I think if you follow the steps I've outline above he will be alright on his own.

As for what attorneys charge, that depends on how specialized and experienced the attorney is. Some will handle a case like this for a flat $500.00 or so. Others, like me (old, specialized, very experienced) are pretty pricey. I don't handle any case/review whatever for less than $2,000.00. There you go. You just got $2,000.00 worth of advice for free courtesy of AVVO. Send them a thank you note. Good luck!

P.S. The reason your son was driving (dying grampa) while likely to evoke sympathy and understanding from the judge, is not a legal defense. He was either suspended or not and unless he has an argument that he was not on proper notice of the suspension (all DOL has to do is mail the notice to his last known address on file with DOL) it is likely he would be found guilty.


DWLS 3 is a simple misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. It would be a good idea for your son to obtain an attorney. Depending on his history and his current license status, he may be able to get the charge reduced to an infraction. Most attorneys provide free consultations where you can obtain price quotes.

This answer is for educational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.

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