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DWLS - Driving While License Suspended

DWLS - Driving While License Suspended

Washington law requires that all drivers be properly licensed and insured.  One of the most commonly charged traffic offenses in Washington is Driving While License Suspended (DWLS).  Frequently we are able to assist in getting these charges resolved in a positive manner by assisting you in getting your license reinstated.  

Although a DWLS charge may seem like it is a minimal charge, any DWLS charge, as well as any traffic infraction, may be cause for a person to lose the privilege of driving for a lengthy period of time-- from one year to the remainder of your life.  A DWLS charge should be handled with professional legal assistance.

It is important to make sure Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) has your correct address.

DOL and courts send notices to the address they have on file.  If you do not get a notice because you failed to change your address, the DOL will still consider the notice effectively served on you.

There are three (3) different levels of DWLS charges:

DWLS 1st Degree: 

  • A driver is guilty of DWLS 1st if he or she has driven a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license when an individual is deemed a habitual traffic offender or is otherwise not eligible to reinstate his or her license. 
  • DWLS 1 is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
  • A first-time DWLS 1st conviction carries a minimum jail sentence of 10 days in jail.  A second time conviction has a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.  Subsequent convictions have a minimum sentence of 180 days in jail.  These minimum sentences may not be deferred or suspended.  
  • A person convicted of a DWLS 1st who is also convicted of an alcohol or drug related charge may also face a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. 
  • A person convicted of a DWLS 1st charge will also face increasingly longer suspensions of their driving privileges as associated with a Habitual Traffic Offender.  

DWLS 2nd Degree:

  • A driver is guilty of a DWLS 2nd if he or she has driven a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license at a time when an individual is not eligible to have his or her license reinstated.  
  • DWLS 2 is also a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.  There are no mandatory minimum penalties.  

DWLS 3rd Degree:

  • A driver is guilty of a DWLS 3rd if he or she has driven a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license at a time when an individual is eligible to have his or her license reinstated.  
  • DWLS 3 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
  • Most people who have their driver's licenses suspended are suspended because of outstanding and unpaid traffic infractions.  
  • A person charged with a DWLS3 may be eligible to enter into a licensing Relicensing Program, which will have the criminal charge of DWLS3 dismissed.    A person may have no active warrants to enter the program and if a person has had more than four prior DWLS3 charges, they may not be eligible.   Upon acceptance into the program, the person must obtain a valid license within 90 days and pay an administrative fee within 90 days, and then the court will dismiss the DWLS3 charge. 

Driving Without A License on Person

Another common traffic violation in Washington is driving without a license, a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of up to $550, however this may also be charged as a misdemeanor.   Individuals may receive a traffic ticket for driving without a license if they are stopped by an officer and do not have a license in their possession or if they have an expired license.   As long as the person is not driving while his or her license is suspended or revoked, the offense is merely a traffic infraction punishable by a fine, as opposed to the more serious misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense of DWLS.

Put An Experienced Traffic Defense Attorney On Your Side

If you have been charged with DWLS or received a ticket for driving without a license, we can help.  At Heritage Law Office, our traffic defense lawyer serves clients throughout Eastern, Central and Western Washington.

We concentrate in traffic defense to provide our clients with the knowledgeable representation they require.  We have defended many clients against DWLS charges.  We have a strong knowledge of local court procedures, judges and prosecutors.  Using our knowledge of the law and our experience in traffic defense, we will provide a vigorous defense on your behalf.

Contact Heritage Law Office Today

We serve clients in Kittitas County and throughout Eastern, Central and Western Washington.  For a free consultation, contact our law office in Cle Elum at 509-899-5375 or by email.

Counties We Serve

We serve counties and cities throughout Washington State, including Kittitas, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, King, Lincoln, Okanogan, Othello, Pierce, Ritzville, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima. Contact Heritage Law Office for more information.

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