Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) in Olympia
Driving while license suspended is one of the common criminal charges. There are numerous reasons why one’s license would be suspended. Depending on the reason for the suspension, there is a corresponding license suspension degree. Penalties will increase as the severity of the suspension increases. Penalties include jail, fines, probation, and additional license suspensions.
The most common and least serious of the DWLS charges is third degree. This degree basically means that your license is eligible for reinstatement except for something, normally money owed. Examples included failing to pay a traffic ticket or owing child support. Other examples include failing to show up to court or not turning in proof of treatment to DOL. DWLS 3° is a misdemeanor which means the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. There is no license suspension with this conviction and it does not count as a strike for habitual traffic offender status.
A level above in seriousness is a DWLS 2° charge. This type of suspension is normally caused by poor driving. Examples include being convicted of DUI, Physical Control, Reckless Driving, or Hit and Run Attended. When your license is suspended in the 2°, you are not eligible for reinstatement. However, you typically are eligible for some type of restricted license. A DWLS 2° charge is a gross misdemeanor, which means the maximum penalty is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. More importantly, it also comes with a 1 year license suspension and counts as a strike for habitual traffic offender status. This is important to note because odds are you already had a strike and that is why your license was suspended in the first place. This is how many people get two quick strikes against them which is especially problematic. It is also a problem if your license was suspended because of a DUI conviction because a DWLS conviction while on probation will result in an automatic 30 days in jail.
The most serious type of license suspension is 1°. This is when your license was suspended because you were designated as a habitual traffic offender. DWLS 1° is also a gross misdemeanor which means it comes with a maximum 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. It also comes with mandatory jail and a license suspension. What is especially problematic is the fact that the license suspension is added to the license suspension you are already facing due to being designated a habitual traffic offender.
We get phone calls all the time from individuals complaining about how they were only driving because they need to get to work and they cannot pay their bills which are holding up their license without going to work. Unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle where once you are in it, it is difficult to get out of it. The unfortunate reality is the court will not excuse criminal conduct. The court will inform you that there are other ways other than to drive illegally.
It is important to take these types of charges seriously because they can spiral out of control quickly if you do not take them seriously. If your license is suspended, you also need to understand you cannot driving no matter what the reason. Judges have heard all of the different excuses and they do not care.
If you are facing a DWLS charge, do not hesitate to give our office a call. We will be more than happy to discuss your situation with you and help answer any questions you may have about the charges you face and the reason for your license suspension.