Driving is a privilege not a right and that privilege can be taken away for a variety of reasons. Making a minor mistake behind the wheel is not reason enough to be suspended. If you are a habitual offender the Washington traffic courts will suspend your Washington driver license. A single violation such as DWI or reckless driving can also result in suspension. Read on to find out what causes a suspended Washington drivers license and what you can do to earn it back.
Reasons For A Suspended Washington Drivers License
There are many ways to lose your privilege to drive. The one you’ll have the most control over, and you can remedy quickly, is accumulating too many traffic violations. The Washington point system is in place to raise a red flag against Habitual Traffic Violators. If you are ticketed 4 times in 1 year, 5 times in 2 years, you can count on losing your license.
Serious violations that will result in a suspended drivers license:
- DWI / DUI or driving under the influence
- Failure to submit to breathalyzer test
- Reckless Driving
- Accident with no insurance
- Hit and Run accident
- Eluding a police officer
- Failure to pay fines for traffic violations
What Does Suspension Mean?
A suspended license in Washington is defined as the loss of your driving privilege for 364 days or less. Anything more qualifies as a revoked license. Your drivers license can also be canceled, which is a permanent loss of your privilege to drive in Washington.
Penalties For Driving On Suspended Washington Driver License
There are 3 different categories of driving on a suspended license.
- Driving While Suspended 3rd degree is the least serious. It is a simple misdemeanor and carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine, though it rarely results in jail time for the vast majority of people. Your license is suspend in the 3rd degree if you have unpaid traffic tickets or are eligible to reinstate (but haven’t reinstated yet) your driving privileges after being suspended for a criminal charge like DUI or reckless driving.
- Driving While Suspended 2nd degree is much more serious than DWLS 3rd. It is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. There are no mandatory minimum penalties and most people convicted of DWLS 2nd don’t receive jail time. However, jail time is a possibility, especially if you have a poor driving record. A conviction for DWLS 2nd does carry an additional year license suspension.
- Driving While Suspended 1st degree is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and $5000 fine. If you are convicted, there is mandatory 10 days in jail for the first offense, 90 days of jail for a second offense and 180 days for a third offense. Some judges allow this mandatory jail time be served on electronic home monitoring, but others make you sit in jail. You can only receive a DWLS 1st if you have been deemed a habitual traffic offender by the Dept, of Licensing and had your license suspended for seven (7) years.
Reinstating A Suspended Washington Drivers License
The first step is to check with the Dept. of Licensing. They now provide an online tool for checking your license. If you have completed all of the court and DMV requirements the Department of Licensing will require a $75.00 reinstatement fee. One of the requirements may be buying auto insurance with a SR22 certificate. A ignition interlock device may also be required if you were suspended for DUI. If your not eligible to reinstate your license you may be able to get a restricted license. This will allow you to drive to and from work, school, or other vital locations. You will be limited to only driving to specified locations and during specific hours.
Ignorance Is No Excuse
If you are caught driving on a suspended license and you tell the arresting officer you didn’t know about the suspension they will be the first to tell you ignorance is no excuse. The Department of Licensing and the courts will also tell you ignorance is no excuse. The bottom line is YOU are responsible for knowing if your driving privilege is intact with the state.