When a police officer pulls you over and gives you a ticket in Washington state, you can face different consequences based on the infraction: fines, traffic school, community service, and other administrative penalties. However, the consequences can significantly increase if you are driving with a suspended license. The officer will require you to find someone to take you home and, depending on the severity of the incident, you may face criminal charges. In this case, you will need a Tacoma suspended license lawyer.
Why Could You Have a Suspended License?
In Washington state, a license suspension occurs when you lose your driving privileges for less than a year. If you lose your privileges for over a year, you have a revoked license. The state can also cancel your license, which results in a permanent loss in your ability to drive in Washington.
Many different driving infractions or incidents can lead to a suspended license. The most common reason for losing your ability to drive is if you have too many traffic violations on your record. If you receive at least four tickets in one year or five tickets in two years, the state will suspend your license.
You can also face a license suspension if you commit a serious traffic crime, including the following.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- A hit-and-run conviction
- Driving recklessly
- Driving without insurance
- Causing a fatal accident
Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License
Driving with a suspended license is a criminal traffic offense in Washington, and you can face significant penalties if a law enforcement officer catches you. You can face a charge of driving with a suspended license in the first, second, or third degree, with each carry their own consequences.
- Driving with a suspended license in the third-degree is the most common and least severe of the suspended license charges. You receive this charge if you drive with your suspended license when you are eligible for the state to reinstate your license. You may be eligible if the state suspended your license for a minor charge, such as unpaid traffic ticket or child support. You could face a simple misdemeanor charge, up to 90 days in jail, and a $1,000 fine. This charge rarely results in jail time.
- Driving with a suspended license in the second-degree is more severe than the third-degree, but not the most severe one you could face. You receive this charge if you drive when you are not eligible to reinstate your privilege to drive. You are ineligible if you lost your license as a result of a serious crime, such as a DUI conviction or reckless driving charge. You will receive a gross misdemeanor on your record and could face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Driving with a suspended license in the first-degree is the most severe suspended license charge you could receive. Police will charge you with this crime if you lost your license for being a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), or you received three major traffic convictions within a five-year period. Penalties can include a gross misdemeanor charge with a maximum of 364 days in prison and a $5,000 fine. You will need to spend at least 10 days in jail if this is your first offense, 90 days for your second offense, and 180 days for third and subsequent offenses.
How to Fight a Suspended License Charge
You can face severe penalties for driving with a suspended license, depending on the degree of the charge and the circumstances under which the state suspended your license. In order to combat these charges, you will need to attend hearings, negotiate with the prosecution, and collect necessary evidence to build a compelling case in your favor. To accomplish this, you will require legal representation.
If you are facing charges for driving with a suspended license in Washington state, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the charges you are facing, the potential penalties you may receive, and your best legal options. He or she will have experience working in Washington courts and have a strong knowledge of traffic law, which can assist you in fighting the charge.