Drivers in Washington are expected to adhere to the laws and rules of the road. When they do not, law enforcement might initiate a traffic stop or investigation and cite them. People who are repeatedly accused of traffic violations could find themselves categorized as a habitual traffic offender. It is important to know when this designation will be made, what violations must occur and how many there must be.
When is a person labeled a habitual traffic offender?
A driver will be a habitual driving offender if they are convicted of three or more offenses of DUI, vehicular homicide or assault, driving with a suspended or revoked license, failing to stop after an accident involving injury or death, reckless driving, being in control of a vehicle while under the influence, or attempting to elude a police officer. A driver will also be considered a habitual traffic offender if they have 20 or more convictions of traffic infractions including the above violations plus others including running a stop sign, ignoring school patrol, having an open container of alcohol, speeding and many more. These must happen within a five-year period.
A person labeled as a habitual traffic offender might lose their driving privileges, be confronted with heavy fines and need to deal with many other challenges.
For example, if a person needs a reasonably clean driving record to get a job, a history of traffic offenses can hinder their prospects. Often, people need a driver’s license to get back and forth to work, to run errands for their family and more.
Losing driving privileges, requesting a stay and reinstatement
Habitual traffic offenders will have their driving privileges revoked until such time when it can be reinstated. The driver can request a stay hearing. If the driver is addicted to drugs or alcohol, then can ask to retain driving privileges if they show they are dependent on alcohol or drugs. From the time of the previous offense, they must show they took part in and completed a treatment program or finished the first 60 days of treatment. They cannot be a habitual traffic offender after violating a previous stay or probation. And the offenses that resulted in the license being revoked must have been sparked by their dependence.
The driver can also ask for a reinstatement if they have been a habitual traffic offender for a minimum of four years; they show they have not driven for at least two years; they adhered to the requirements regarding alcohol use if any were put in place; they were not suspended for failing to comply with the treatment program; and a minimum of one year has elapsed since they sought reinstatement.
Retaining driving privileges often requires professional assistance
There are options to try and address these concerns. Some of the violations might not have been justified based on the law. If, for example, the violation is for driving under the influence, the driver could have been sober, there might have been a problem with the testing procedure or there could be a reasonable explanation for the perception that they were drunk or on drugs.
Consulting with experienced professionals who are well-versed in the law, are familiar with the statewide court system, know the prosecutors, judges and law enforcement and can assess how to come to a positive outcome to help a person get beyond these allegations is key. This can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, education and employment. To deal with traffic violations, it is wise to have assistance to assess the case and do whatever possible to maintain driving privileges while avoiding harsh penalties.