Driving While License Suspended in Washington State
DWLS 3rd DegreeDriving While License is Suspended or Revoked Third Degree, or DWLS 3 is the most common charge. This crime is committed by operating a motor vehicle in the state while your license to drive is suspended but you are eligible for reinstatement at the time of the offense. Typically, this happens after the Department of Licensing (DOL) suspends your license due to unpaid traffic tickets. You will likely have received notice from the court and DOL prior to suspension. DWLS 3 is a simple misdemeanor. The good news is that this charge can be avoided by paying and infractions that have been committed in full or getting into a payment plan in a timely manner if you can't afford to pay in full. If it is too late and you are facing a DWLS 3 charge an attorney can explain how to get your license reinstated and will often help avoid you avoid a criminal conviction for DWLS 3 by negotiating with the prosecutor for a reduction to a non-criminal infraction once you have your license back.
DWLS 2nd DegreeDWLS 2nd Degree?Driving While License is Suspended or Revoked Second Degree, or DWLS 2 is a more serious offense. DWLS 2 is committed by operating a motor vehicle in the state when your license to drive has been suspended and you are NOT eligible for reinstatement at the time of the offense. This often occurs after a suspension resulting from a DUI or Reckless Driving conviction or DOL administrative suspension. DWLS 2 also typically results in a review hearing to determine if the conditions of your sentence were violated by the DWLS 2 allegation or conviction. DWLS can also carry an additional license suspension under certain circumstances. It is important to consult an attorney with DWLS charged and handling review hearings to represent your best interests.
DWLS 1st DegreeDWLS 1st Degree?Driving While License Suspended or Revoked First Degree, or DWLS 1 is the most serious DWLS offense. DWLS 1 is a gross misdemeanor and carries mandatory minimum penalties if there is a finding of guilt. A person commits the crime of DWLS 1 when operating a motor vehicle while their license to drive is in the status of revoked as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) due to multiple prior violations. A driver is designated as a habitual traffic offender when, within a 5-year period, the driver has been either:
convicted of 3 or more offenses listed in RCW 46.65.020(1); OR has been found to have committed or convicted of 20 or more of the moving violations set forth in WAC 308-104-160. DOL will suspend the driving privilege of an HTO for 7 years.
The penalties for a DWLS 1 conviction are steep and include mandatory jail time of 10 days for a first offense, 90 for a second offense, and 180 for a third offense.