Serving Skagit,
Island, and
Whatcom Counties
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)

The crime of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) is the most common criminal charge in Washington. There are three different degrees of DWLS with First Degree being most the serious while Third Degree is the least. The reason for suspension varies, as well does the punishment, a quick explanation of each offense is offered below.

Driving While License Suspended in the First Degree

A person charged with DWLS First Degree is alleged to have their driving privileges suspended because they are a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). A Habitual Traffic Offender is someone who has three serious traffic offenses (DUI, Reckless Driving, Vehicular Assault, DWLS 2, etc) in five years or someone who incurs twenty traffic infractions in a five year period. Once someone is found to a HTO there privilege to drive is suspended for seven years.

A person may be eligible to reinstate their license after four years if they have no new criminal law violations. If the Department of Licensing grants a person's reinstatement they will be eligible to drive under strict conditions in which they must closely adhere.

The punishment for DWLS 1 is up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. The laws are very clear that the first conviction for this charge must be at least 10 days in jail, a second requires 90 days and a third or any subsequent must be 180 days in custody. Finally, a person convicted of DWLS 1 may also lead to further HTO suspensions and continue the cycle of a driver facing continuing charges.

Driving While License Suspended in the Second Degree

The crime of Driving While License Suspended in the Second Degree (DWLS 2) is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, $5000 fine and a one year license suspension. Unlike DWLS 1, there are no mandatory minimum sentences a judge must impose. In addition, if the driver is relicensed at the time of sentencing, the judge can sign an order requesting that the Department of Licensing not issue the one year suspension. The Department of Licensing, however, does not always follow the recommendation.

A person is suspended or revoked in the second degree if their license is suspended for one of the following convictions:

  • (i) felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used;
  • (ii) prior DWLS 2;
  • (iii) offense relating to alcohol, legend drugs, controlled substances, or imitation controlled substances committed by minors;
  • (iv) violation of restrictions of an occupational driver's license, a temporary restricted driver's license, or an ignition interlock driver's license;
  • (v) presenting an invalid, suspended or revoked license;
  • (vi) hit & run, attended vehicle;
  • (vii) attempting to elude pursuing police vehicles;
  • (viii) reckless endangerment of emergency zone workers;
  • (ix) reckless driving;
  • (x) DUI or Physical Control;
  • (xi) vehicular homicide;
  • (xii) vehicular assault;
  • (xiii) reckless endangerment of roadway workers;
  • (xiv) racing of vehicles on highways;
  • (xv) leaving children in an unattended vehicle with motor running;
  • (xvi) theft of motor vehicle fuel;
  • (xvii) attempting, aiding, abetting, coercing certain crimes;
  • (xviii) DOL administrative suspension; or
  • (xix) local law, ordinance, regulation, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state, the federal government, or any other state, of an offense substantially similar to a violation included in this subsection.
The Attorneys at Powers Law Group are Experienced in Representing Individuals Charged with DWLS

Many times the attorneys work with their clients in obtaining their driver's license. When this happens, many prosecutors who practice with our attorneys amend the charges to infractions or dismiss the charge outright to allow the driver to continue operating their vehicle and avoid further charges.

Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree

Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS 3) is the most common criminal charge filed in Skagit County, Island County, Snohomish County or Whatcom County. DWLS 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. Unlike DWLS 1or DWLS 2 there is no further license suspension upon conviction. The basis for this license suspension is usually issues such as unpaid traffic tickets, child support issues or simply not getting reinstated after a prior license suspension.

In many circumstances if the driver is able to reinstate their driving privileges, the attorney at Powers Law Group are able to get this charged dismissed outright or amended to a traffic infraction.