Driving on a Suspended License

Posted by Coleen D. St. Clair | Nov 28, 2016 | 0 Comments


If you are charged and convicted of driving under the influence, there are many secondary consequences that you might face in addition to the traditional penalties under the law, like increased car insurance costs, the costs of an interlock device, or driving with a suspended license. If you make the decision to drive with a suspended license, you could face a criminal charge and jail time.

Crime of DWLS

Driving on a suspended license (DWLS) is the most charged criminal traffic offense in the state of Washington. There are a number of ways that you can have your license suspended or revoked. The most common reasons for suspension are:

  • Unpaid traffic tickets
  • As a result of a criminal conviction (ex. DUI, reckless driving)
  • As a result of an administrative suspension (ex. DUI)
  • Failure to properly reinstate your license after a suspension
  • Involvement in an accident without having insurance
  • Habitual traffic offender

Washington law states that it is unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle when his or her privilege to drive is suspended or revoked in Washington or any other state. The crime of DWLS is broken up into three categories, each a different level of severity.

DWLS Third Degree

DWLS third degree is the least serious of the three and is a simple misdemeanor. It is punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and up to a $1000 fine, though it rarely results in jail time. Your license can be suspended in the third degree due to an unpaid traffic ticket, unpaid child support, or not getting your license reinstated after a period of suspension.

DWLS Second Degree

DWLS second degree is much more serious than DWLS third degree. You will automatically receive a DWLS second degree if your license was suspended as a result of a DUI, reckless driving, hit and run, or felony driving crimes. This charge is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Most people convicted of this charge do no receive jail time, but it is a possibility, especially if you have a poor driving record. A conviction for DWLS second degree also carries an additional year license suspension beyond the suspension you are already serving.

DWLS First Degree

DWLS in the first degree is the least common conviction because it is reserved for habitual traffic offenders. It is also a gross misdemeanor but it comes with even more serious consequences. There is a mandatory 10 days in jail for the first offense, 90 days in jail for the second offense, and 180 days for a third offense.

Washington DUI Attorney

Anyone facing charges of driving under the influence has the right to a quality legal defense. If you have been arrested in Washington State, suspected of DUI, call Coleen St. Clair at St. Clair Law Offices (206) 578-2200 or contact her online.

About the Author

Coleen D. St. Clair

Ms. St. Clair is a former senior prosecuting attorney with over 25 years experience handling criminal cases. She has successfully handled tens of thousands of criminal and DUI cases with remarkable results.


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