Driving without a License in Washington State: What You Need to Know
Driving without a license is a serious offense in Washington State, and the penalties can be severe if you are caught. If you are pulled over by a police officer and found not to have a valid license, you may face fines, jail time, or even community service. To help keep yourself safe from legal repercussions, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding driving without a license in Washington State.
What Are The Consequences of Driving Without A License?
The consequences of driving without a license vary on a case-by-case basis. However, there can be severe fines and possibly even jail time associated with this offense. According to RCW 46.20.015, if you have a license but it isn’t on you while you’re driving, you face a traffic infraction and is subject to a penalty of $250.
If you do not have a valid license, or if it was suspended or revoked, you face a misdemeanor and fines up to $1000. You also face up to 90 days in jail.
In addition to potential fines, your vehicle may get impounded until you provide proof of insurance and registration. Furthermore, suppose you are frequently found guilty of driving without a license in WA State. In that case, your offense will be considered a criminal act instead of an infraction—which carries much more severe penalties like jail time or community service hours. A conviction for first-degree driving while suspended will result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
When Can I Get Arrested For Driving Without A License?
Under any circumstances, it is illegal to drive without a valid driver's license in Washington State. Whether it’s because your license has expired or been suspended due to unpaid tickets or other violations, it’s still against the law. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and the severity of the situation, you could face arrest if caught driving without a valid driver’s license in Washington State.
Generally speaking, an arrest will only occur if officers believe that your unlicensed driving threatens people or property. Otherwise, they will issue citations and/or impose fines for your infraction (if applicable).
What is Driving on a Suspended License?
Driving on a suspended license (also known as DWLS) means operating an automobile while the state revoked or suspended your driver's license. In some cases, driving with a suspended license is considered a misdemeanor offense, and in other cases, it is considered an infraction. In many states, the severity of the punishment depends on why your license was suspended in the first place.
Consequences of Driving with a Suspended License After a DUI
The consequences for driving on a suspended license after receiving a DUI conviction vary from state to state, but they can be severe. You may face jail time, fines, additional suspension periods of your driver's license, community service hours, and/or revocation of your car registration privileges.
Additionally, if you are caught driving with a suspended license after being convicted of multiple DUIs within five years, you may be charged with felony DWLS. A felony charge carries much harsher sentences than misdemeanors or infractions, so it’s important to know the laws where you live before getting behind the wheel.
You Need a Lawyer After Driving Without a License
Driving without a valid driver's license is against the law in Washington State, no matter what situation you find yourself in—so it’s important that all drivers stay up-to-date on their licenses and renew them regularly so as not to risk legal repercussions like fines and possible jail time for violating this law.
If you face charges for driving without a valid driver's license or any other traffic violation in WA state, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your attorney can advise you on handling your situation best and protecting your driving record.
Contact Our Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you face driving without a license or any criminal charges in Seattle, you need a team of lawyers fighting for you and your rights. At Lewis & Laws, PLLC, we can fight for you and your future at every turn.