Has your Washington driver’s license been suspended? You can take action and retain your driving privileges. The Tacoma Criminal Defense firm of Horwath Law can help you protect your rights at every stage. The sooner you contact an experienced lawyer, the sooner you can take action to clear your suspended license.
Types of License Suspensions in Tacoma and WA State
If you have been charged with Driving While License Suspended in the First Degree (DWLS 1), you will be considered a “Habitual Traffic Offender.” In order have the DMV suspend your license in the first degree, you must have been convicted of three serious offenses within five years, or 20 moving violations within five years. Serious traffic offenses include DUI, Physical Control, Hit and Run, Reckless Driving, Eluding, Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault. Depending on criminal history, the mandatory jail time could range from 10-180 days along with an additional one year license suspension. The maximum jail time for a 1st degree license suspension conviction is one year.
Driving While License Suspended in the Second Degree (DWLS 2) is a gross misdemeanor and has a potential sentence of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. There are several reasons that the DMV will suspend your license in the second degree. If you are convicted of a driving offense like DUI, Reckless Driving or Hit and Run, your license will be suspended in the second degree. It can also be suspended for offenses that are unrelated to driving, such as Fraud, Minor in Possession of Alcohol/Drugs or Minor in Possession of a Firearm. The jail time for a 2nd degree license suspension conviction ranges from 0-364 days and could also include a one year license suspension.
Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS 3) is a misdemeanor. Your license could be suspended in the third degree for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay child support, failure to appear to a court hearing, failure to pay damages resulting from a collision, or getting too many traffic tickets. A 3rd degree license suspension conviction has a potential jail time range of 0-90 days. There is no additional suspension for a conviction.
Length of WA License Suspension and Reinstatement
A first degree license suspension results in a license revocation for seven years. A first degree conviction results in an additional one year suspension, consecutive to the seven years. It is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as you receive notice from the Department of Licensing that your license will be suspended in the first degree. If the DMV plans to suspend your license, you have a right to a hearing to try to prevent the suspension. In what is called a “Stay Hearing,” your attorney can argue that the seven year revocation be “stayed” (not imposed). If you have already been suspended in the first degree, an attorney can request a license reinstatement hearing for you and argue that the DMV should reinstate your suspended license.
A second degree license suspension can range from 30 days to several years, depending on the reason for the suspension. If convicted of Driving While License Suspended in the Second Degree, the court could suspend your license for an additional year, consecutive to any other suspension. An experienced attorney can argue against the additional license suspension. To reinstate your license after a 2nd degree suspension, you may need to show proof of SR22 insurance, alcohol/drug treatment, or ignition interlock, depending on the reason for the suspension.
A conviction for Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree does not result in an additional suspension. If your license is currently suspended in the third degree, it will remain suspended until you resolve whatever is causing the suspension (like unpaid tickets, warrants, child support delinquency, or unpaid collision damages).
If you are able to show that the reason behind the offenses causing the first degree license suspension was drug or alcohol addiction, the Department of License may grant a stay of the seven year suspension and allow you to drive with a probationary license. Hiring an experienced traffic attorney to represent you at the Department of Licensing Hearing will give you the best chance of the probationary license being granted.
There are two types of temporary licenses available if your license is suspended in the second degree. The type of license you will need to get depends on the reason for the suspension. Some suspensions will not have the option of a probationary license. The first type of temporary license is an Ignition Interlock License. The DMV will allow you to drive during your suspension if you have SR 22 insurance and an ignition interlock device installed on your car. There are not location/curfew restrictions with an Ignition Interlock License. The second type of probationary license is an Occupational License. The Department of Licensing will allow you to drive during your suspension if you are driving to/from work, school, alcohol/drug treatment, or other court ordered treatment.
If your license is suspended in the third degree, you may be eligible for the temporary Occupational License, depending on the reason for the suspension. An experienced traffic attorney can assist you in obtaining the temporary license.