Driving on a Suspended License in Washington

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Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in Washington

Washington driver’s licenses may be suspended or revoked for many reasons. If you drive while your license is suspended or revoked, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, or gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Reasons for Suspension of Revocation

Your license may be suspended or revoked for certain criminal convictions, driving offenses, or other reasons. Convictions that may result in suspension or revocation of your license include:

  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • vehicular homicide
  • vehicular assault
  • a felony, if a vehicle was used
  • failing to top if you are involved in an accident that kills or injures someone or damages another vehicles, or
  • reckless driving. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.285, § 46.61.500.)

Your license may also be suspended if you:

  • have been convicted of traffic offenses frequently enough that the state believes you disrespect traffic laws or disregard the safety of others
  • are incompetent to drive a motor vehicle, or
  • do not comply with an order to pay child support. (Wash. Rev. Code § § 46.20.291, § 46.20.291(8).)

In addition, your license may be suspended if you do not respond to a notice of certain traffic infractions or fail to appear at certain hearings. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.289.) Suspension or revocation may occur for many other reasons.

Reinstating Your license

The length of your suspension or revocation may vary. You should not drive while your license is suspended or revoked. After your suspension or revocation period ends, you may be required to pay a reinstatement fee, pay other fees, or fulfill other conditions before your license is reinstated.

Your reinstatement fee may be $75. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.311(1)(e)(i).) If your license was suspended due to driving under the influence, your reinstatement fee may be $150. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.311(1)(e)(ii).)

In certain situations, you may have to provide proof of insurance before your license will be reinstated. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.311(1)(b).)

Criminal Charges for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor if you drive while your license is suspended or revoked. The level of charge will depend on the specific reason your license was suspended or revoked.

Misdemeanor

In some situations, such as if you failed to respond to a notice of a traffic infraction or failed to appear at certain hearings, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.342(1)(c).) The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is:

  • up to 90 days in jail, and
  • a $1,000 fine. (Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.20.021(3).)

Gross Misdemeanor

In other situations, such as if you have a previous conviction for driving while your license is suspended or revoked, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.342(1)(b).) The maximum sentence for a gross misdemeanor is:

  • up to one year in jail, and
  • a $5,000 fine. (Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.20.021(2).)

If you are considered a habitual offender and drive while your license is revoked, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. You may have a minimum sentence involving at least:

  • 10 days in jail for a first offense.
  • 90 days in jail for a second offense
  • 180 days in jail for a third or subsequent offense (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.342(1)(a).)

If you were under the influence at the time you were driving with a revoked license in this situation, you may have a minimum sentence of at least 90 days in jail. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.342(1)(a).)

Other Penalties

In addition to fines and jail time, your suspension or revocation period may be extended. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.342(2).) Your vehicle may be impounded under some circumstances. (Wash. Rev. Code § 46.55.120.)

Legal Help for Charges of Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

A conviction for driving while your license is suspended or revoked may have serious consequences. In addition to fines and jail time, you may encounter difficulties keeping a job, staying in school, obtaining or retaining insurance, and living your life in general. While the law provides specific penalties for a conviction, actual sentences depend on a community’s view toward the crime. Your individual sentence will depend on your circumstances and your local judges and prosecutors. Only an attorney who knows how these charges are handled in your area will be able to provide you with this information.

Updated by: , Attorney

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