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Tacoma License Suspension Lawyer

The American lifestyle requires a car. It is difficult to imagine surviving in modern society without one. So when you get a notice from the Washington State Department of Licensing that it will be revoking or suspending your driver’s license, the news is devastating and you need to contact an experienced Tacoma license suspension attorney immediately. How will you get to work or school? To the doctor or dentist? Do your shopping? Visit friends? Get to the activities you enjoy? Take your children where they need to go? If it is your commercial driver’s license that is being taken away, your very employment and security are at risk.

What is the Difference Between a Driver’s License Suspension and Revocation?

Suspended Driver’s License – A suspended license in Washington is defined as the loss of driving privileges for 364 days or less. After the suspension period is complete, your license can be reinstated by appearing before a court, submitting a SR-22 Financial Responsibility Form, and paying a reinstatement fee.  

Revoked Driver’s License – A revoked license in Washington is defined as the cancellation and permanent loss to drive in the state of Washington.

To learn more about this, speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Tacoma.

What Can Suspend Your Driver’s License?

Common reasons for license suspensions, revocations, and cancellations include:

  • DUI
  • Habitual traffic offenses
  • Medical and vision issues
  • Financial responsibility following an accident
  • The interest of safety
  • Employer drug tests
  • Fraud

Specific Reasons for License Suspensions and Revocations in Washington State

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, there are many different reasons a driver’s license can be suspended or revoked including fraud charges, DUI, traffic violations, and financial responsibilities. When it comes to continuing traffic offenses, it may be considered in the interest of public safety to suspend a person’s license.

License Suspension/Revocation for Traffic Violations

Suspension/RevocationLength of TimeRequirements of Reinstatement
4 traffic violations in 12 months or 5 violations in 24 months1 year of probationNone
Violating probation on continuing offenses30 - 364 daysSR-22 Insurance Certificate; $75 fee; 1 year probation
6 violations in 12 monthsSR-22 Insurance Certificate; $75 fee; 1 year probation
Habitual traffic offender -
20 moving violations in five years, four must have occurred within one year, or any combination of three in five years that require suspension or revocation, one conviction must be within the last 12 months
LifetimeSR-22 Insurance Certificate; driving exams, $75 fee; if violations were for DUI or physical control, certain assessment/treatment reports required.
After four years, there is a provision for early reinstatement if there have been no driving incidents within two years. If early reinstatement is denied, a hearing can be requested to contest the Department's decision.

Source: Washington State Department of Licensing

What are Restricted Licenses?

After your commercial driver’s license is suspended, you have the option to obtain a restricted license. You may be eligible for one of two options:

  • Occupational/restricted license (ORL). An ORL is a license that you may use to get to work, school, court-ordered community service, substance abuse treatment, a doctor’s appointment, providing care to a dependent, or on-the-job training. This type of license is only available if your commercial license was suspended for a non-drug/alcohol-related offense.
  • Ignition interlock license (IIL). Alternatively, an IIL allows you to drive when your license was revoked or suspended on a drug or alcohol-related charge. To be eligible for this, you must be convicted of DUI, reckless driving, vehicular assault involving alcohol or drugs, or vehicular homicide involving alcohol or drugs. However, your current revocation or suspension cannot include minor in possession and you cannot be a habitual traffic offender. In addition to that, you must have a valid Washington driver license or a valid out of state one.

However, neither of these options gives you the same amount of freedom that you had with your driver’s license.

What are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License?

According to Washington State Legislature, RCW §46.20.342(1)(a), it is unlawful to drive on a suspended driver’s license. Suspension lengths, fines and jail time vary based the violation and conviction.

Third Degree – Driving with a license suspended in the 3rd degree is a misdemeanor. Individuals found guilty can serve a maximum of 90 days in jail and pay a fine of $1000.

Second Degree – Driving with a suspended license in the 2nd degree is a gross misdemeanor. If convicted, you can serve a maximum of 365 days in jail with a $5,000 fine. A conviction does carry an additional year of license suspension, post the initial suspension issued by Washington State.

First Degree – Driving with a suspended license in the 1st degree, is a gross misdemeanor with maximum sentence of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Convictions are broken down by the three offenses: 10 days for the first offense, 90 days for the second offense, and 180 days for the third offense.

Can you Appeal a Driver’s License Suspension?

You can appeal a driver’s license suspension within 15-20 days, depending on the violation. The Department Of Licensing is not able to take away your license without first giving you notice and providing you with an opportunity to contest the revocation or suspension. This is because you have a constitutional right to due process. You have the right to a hearing in which a licensing examiner will review the law that applies to your situation, consider the evidence, and decide whether your license will, in fact, be suspended. Because licensing actions are administrative as opposed to criminal, you do not have the right to a public defender. You do, however, have the right to retain your own Tacoma license suspension attorney to represent you at the hearing.

DOL examiners have a reputation for being tough and difficult to deal with, and hearings are often hard to win. Nevertheless, the hearing provides your only hope of maintaining your license. If you don’t request a hearing, the DOL merely assumes all the information they have is correct and will proceed to deprive you of your driving privileges. Your best chance to avoid such a disaster is to retain a knowledgeable Tacoma license suspension lawyer who understands the operation of the DOL, Washington’s laws, and how to present your case to your best advantage.

How Long Does a Suspended License Stay on Your Record?

Driving on a suspended license offenses remains on your driving record for a long time and can be used later on as prior offenses. Most smaller violations will stay on your driving record for up to 5 years. Offenses involving alcohol will stay on your record for 10 years.

The Help You Need to Keep Driving

When you need help in your attempt to retain your license, attorney Mark Treyz can represent you in your DOL hearing. Mark has been practicing law in Washington for over 30 years and is very familiar with the state’s traffic and licensing laws. He is a Tacoma defense lawyer who knows how to put together a persuasive case to prevent this punitive action from destroying your life and livelihood. He has helped many people through this stressful and difficult process, and while there is never a guarantee, experienced legal representation offers you the best chance at being able to maintain your driving privilege and continuing to drive.

Call the Law Offices of Mark S. Treyz, to arrange a free consultation as soon as you have been notified that your license is scheduled for cancellation, and let him guide you through the process.