Last week the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took a big step in protecting Washington citizens by challenging the state’s practice of suspending a driver’s privilege to drive when he/she fails to pay their traffic fine(s). The ACLU’s argument is that the suspension unjustly favors the wealthy, and punishes the financially challenged, a huge proportion of which are persons of color. The ACLU claims the system violates state constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights.
Currently, if a person fails to pay a traffic ticket in Washington, the Department of Licensing is notified, and upon such notification DOL suspends that person’s Washington State driving privilege until the ticket has been resolved. Such status is called – Driving While Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS3). In Washington, DWLS3 is a crime (a misdemeanor) that carries with it the prospect of 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine.
For years it has been said the state was going to abolish the suspension practice by decriminalizing DWLS3. To date, of course, that has not happened. In light of this, many people are saddled with ever escalating debt, and an inability to legally drive because they simply cannot afford to pay off the ticket which is in collections. Many are left with no option but to drive. Thus, they elect to drive on a suspended license, usually without automotive insurance. A practice that is not good for anyone.
It will surely be interesting to see how the court handles the suit. One thing is for sure, the wheels of justice are not swift. It could take months or even years to get some type of binding outcome. In the meantime, perhaps the legislature will revisit the issue, especially during these social justice times.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge (DWLS or otherwise), don’t hesitate to hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal attorneys that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.