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Can You Carry a Loaded Gun in Your Car in Washington State?

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In Washington, owning a gun comes with several requirements and responsibilities. For example, you cannot carry a firearm while on public school premises unless you are a military or law enforcement officer. You must register your firearm and store it in a safe, secure location.

When driving, you may wonder if you can carry a loaded gun in your car. According to Washington law, it is illegal to keep a loaded firearm in a vehicle unless you meet certain criteria. Violating this law can result in severe criminal penalties.

Carrying a Firearm in a Vehicle in Washington

According to RCW 9.41.050, you may not carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle unless you have a concealed pistol license. Generally, carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun in a motor vehicle is illegal.

If you do have this license and are carrying a loaded handgun in your car, you must also comply with the following rules. 

  • You must carry the handgun on your person.
  • You must be in the vehicle at all times that the handgun is present.
  • If you are leaving the handgun in the vehicle, you must lock the firearm away and conceal it from view.

For firearms that are not loaded, you must keep it locked in the vehicle and conceal it from view. You may not carry any firearm while on a transit vehicle, such as a bus or a train, or while at a transit station. If you are carrying a loaded firearm on a non-highway vehicle, such as an ATV or a dirt bike, you must have a permit from the director of fish and wildlife or hold a concealed pistol license. 

Penalties for the Illegal Transport of a Loaded Firearm

If you carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle without the proper permits or protocol, you could face criminal charges. Under RCW 9.41.050, this violation is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 90 days and jail. Additionally, you may need to pay up to a $1,000 fine. These penalties can have a severe impact on your life.

In these situations, a Washington self-defense attorney could represent your claim and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge, your lawyer could help significantly reduce your potential penalties, or convince the state to drop the charges altogether.

What to Do If You Are Caught with a Loaded Gun in Your Car

If you are arrested for carrying a loaded gun in your car without a concealed pistol license, it is important to remain calm and seek help as soon as possible. Take the following steps after your arrest to protect yourself.

  • Comply with the police officer’s instructions. Avoid arguing or fighting against the officer. These actions could result in additional charges.
  • Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Do not volunteer information about the situation. Avoid answering questions from the officers or investigators.
  • As soon as possible, ask to speak to a criminal defense attorney. If the police continue asking questions, repeat that you want to speak with a lawyer.

When you meet with a Washington criminal defense lawyer, he or she will ask you important questions about your case and help you understand your legal options. After your arrest, make sure to contact the Law Office of Mark Treyz as soon as possible to secure the best possible outcome.

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