As of January 1, 2023, a new way for Washingtonians to lose their ability to drive a motor vehicle became possible. On that date, RCW 46.20.2892 went into effect. That statute requires a person’s driver’s license to be suspended or revoked if they receive too many tickets in a short period. Unfortunately, this new kind of suspension hasn't been widely talked about, and so many folks are unaware that a suspension might happen until they get a letter in the mail saying their license has been suspended.
How Many Tickets Will Cause a Suspension?
RCW 46.20.2892 is called the “Accumulation of Infractions” suspension.
The statute triggers a 60-day license suspension for any driver convicted of:
- A moving violation on 3 separate occasions in a 12-month period, or
- A moving violation on 4 separate occasions in a 24-month period.
You can try to attack this suspension in multiple ways and retain your driving privilege. The first is to see whether the ticket you may have received qualifies as a “moving violation” under Washington law. WAC 308-104-160 defines which traffic infractions are classified as moving violations. Generally speaking, they are those infractions that have to do with the vehicle's operation: think infractions like speeding, failure to yield, or improper lane change.
By comparison, non-moving violations generally have to do with the equipment on the car: think expired vehicle tabs, broken tail light, or failure to sign a registration certificate.
So, if you receive a speeding ticket that might subject you to this suspension, but you can get it amended to a non-moving violation instead, you should be able to avoid the suspension from going into effect.
What Does the Term “Occasions” Mean in Traffic Infractions?
There’s also the question of how the law uses the term “occasions.” Multiple traffic infractions issued during or as the result of a single traffic stop constitute one occasion. If a driver gets multiple infractions from a single ticket, that counts as one “occasion.”
What Are the Options for Driving During the Suspension Period?
While you have a suspended license due to the accumulation of infractions, you may be eligible for an Occupational/Restricted License (ORL). The ORL allows suspended drivers to drive to work or other necessary appointments until the suspension ends. Drivers have restrictions on where and when they can drive while in the ORL program, so they must be very careful to follow all the program requirements.
How to Reinstate Your License Post-Suspension?
The Department of Licensing requires multiple steps to get your license back when the suspension is over.
The driver’s license reinstatement steps include the following:
- First, a driver must show that they have obtained SR-22 insurance, a special high-risk insurance.
- Second, a driver must take an approved safe driving course and provide proof that they passed that class to the Department of Licensing.
- Finally, the driver can reapply for their license and pay a reinstatement fee to get their license back.
What Is the Post-Suspension Probation Period?
Even after the suspension ends and you have your license back, more must be done. Once the suspension lifts, there is a one-year probation period, and during that probationary term, any conviction on a new moving violation results in an additional 30-day suspension. Driving safely and ensuring that any infractions are amended to non-moving violations is even more important to avoid further suspension.
Protect Your Driving Privileges with Our Team
At Clark Law, P.L.L.C., we pride ourselves on defending our clients’ rights and working to keep them on the road in Spokane. Are you facing a driver’s license suspension? We can help you understand your unique situation, maneuver the complexities of DOL hearings, and fight your traffic ticket cases.
Contact us today for a consultation at (509) 800-5420. You can also reach us online to discuss your options.