Driving and vehicle offenses

Driving with Suspended License

The lawyers at Ashbach Law Offices, LLC provide aggressive, strong defense for those charged with Driving with a Suspended License (DWLS) throughout Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Our goal is to aggressively protect you, your family and your interests from the prosecution, saving jail time, licenses, occupations and reputations. With offices in Marysville and Mill Creek, Washington, we are available to meet you discuss your case. We help good people in bad situations. Let us help you.

In General


Driving in Washington is considered a privilege. Consequently, every person who drives a vehicle in Washington State must have a valid driver’s license. Under RCW 46.20, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle when one’s license is suspended or revoked. Driving with a Suspended/Revoked license is referred to as “DWLS.” DWLS has three different degrees: DWLS 3rd Degree, DWLS 2nd Degree and DWLS 1st Degree (Habitual Traffic Offender). Potential punishment and further license ramifications vary depending on the degree charged.

Quick Definitions


A “suspension” means that a driver’s license has been invalidated for less than a year, whereas a “revocation” indicates a driver’s license has been invalidated for at least a year (in some cases, seven years or more). An individual driver’s privilege to drive can be invalidated for many reasons, and sometimes is suspended erroneously by the Department of Licensing. Under the Interstate Compact, a license suspension in another state will likely follow the driver to Washington State, making that driver subject to a suspended license charge. If you have a suspended license and are pulled over by a police officer, most likely you will be cited with some degree of DWLS, although in some counties and cities officers have started issuing non-criminal citations for drivers with a Suspended License in the Third Degree (DWLS 3rd).

Driving With License Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS 3rd)


Generally, DWLS 3rd is alleged to be committed when a driver does not have a valid license, but could have gotten a license from the DOL. This commonly happens when a person fails to pay a traffic ticket or fine and their license is suspended. A person could then cancel the suspension (assuming no other causes of suspension) by paying off the fine. DWLS 3rd is a simple misdemeanor, punishable up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine.

Sample Result - DWLS 3 - Dismissed

For help with a DWLS 3 allegation, call our office at 360-659-4950 or toll free at 888-WA-LAW-NW for a free, no-pressure consultation and case evaluation.

Driving With License Suspended in the Second Degree (DWLS 2nd)


DWLS 2nd is alleged to be committed when a driver does not have a license, and was not eligible to then get a license. This usually happens when a person's license is currently suspended due to a DUI or Reckless Driving conviction. Conviction of DWLS 2nd results in an additional year suspension of the driver’s license. DWLS 2nd is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5000 fine.

Sample Result - DLWS 2 - Reduced to DWLS 3 - no jail, no further license suspension

We provide aggressive, thorough defense on all our cases. Call us at 360-659-4950 or  888-WA-LAW-NW for a free, individualized case assessment.

Driving With License Suspended in the First Degree (DWLS 1st)


If a driver meets the definition of a “habitual traffic offender” (three or more convictions of serious driving crimes) and is caught driving with a suspended/revoked license, that driver has committed DWLS 1st. Conviction will result in another year’s license suspension, plus a mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days. The second conviction results in a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail, and the third (and subsequent) conviction means a mandatory 180 days in jail. However, a skilled attorney may be able to prevent imposition of such lengthy jail terms. Like a DWLS 2nd, a DWLS 3rd charge is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5000 fine.

Sample Result - DWLS 1 reduced to DWLS 3 - No license suspension; 180 days mandatory jail avoided; client relicensed

Many clients come to us with complicated driving history and license issues. We work hard to address licensing problems and to defend our clients. Find out what we can do for you. Call 360-659-4950 or 888-WA-LAW-NW today.

Ashbach Law Offices, LLC, aggressively represents clients charged with Driving with Suspended License and Driving with Revoked License offenses throughout the Washington I-5 corridor, covering Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Regular courts of practice include, but are not limited to, Anacortes, Arlington, Bellevue, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrance, Redmond, Seattle, Sedro Woolley and Shoreline.