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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Infraction for Driving Without a Driver's License Against a Licensed Driver

    My question involves a driver's license issued by the State of: Washington.

    I was pulled over on my scooter (I am legally endorsed, required in state of WA) for expired tabs, but I had them in the trunk of my scooter so I put them on and the officer did not cite me for that. However, I had very unluckily forgotten my driver's license (wallet) at home in my car that day, so he cited me in violation of SMC 11.20.010 (http://clerk.seattle.gov/~scripts/np...e1.htm&r=1&f=G).

    In my reading of the code, the law pertains to issuance of the license (mine was issued in August 2011), not possession. However, our State Revised Code, RCW (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.20.015), does mention possesion.

    I was wondering which law is pertinent in this situation, or do both apply? Since the officer only cited me in violation of SMC, can I argue not committed on the grounds of the SMC only?

    I'd like to make my case via letter (I have that option), so I'd like to be thorough in my understanding of the law.

    Also, I think I can make my case without bringing up why I was pulled over in the first place. Is that a good idea? Or will the judge be wondering about that and see it as hiding something?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Infraction for Driving Without a Driver's License - Washington State

    If you can present your argument by mail, I would challenge the ticket on the basis you mentioned.

    No person, except those expressly exempted by RCW Chapter 46.20, shall
    operate a motor vehicle within the City unless such person has a valid
    driver's license issued under the provisions of RCW Chapter 46.20
    I am not an attorney. You copying this verbatim might constitute the argument I am practicing law. This is only an example of how I would word a letter similarly. I have no expectation you will copy and use it.
    I am appealing my citation SMC 11.20.010 on the basis that I had a valid driver's license, issued under the provisions of RCW Chapter 46.20. I have enclosed a copy of the statute and a copy, front and back, of that license, signed by a notary attesting the aforementioned license was presented to them, for identification purposes at the time they notarized it. You will note the issuance date of the license is prior to the date of my citation. I respectfully request the court find me not guilty of violating statute SMC 11.20.010 and clear my record. Respectfully xxxx

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Infraction for Driving Without a Driver's License Against a Licensed Driver

    Quote Quoting SMC 11.20.010 Driver's license required - Exception - Penalty.
    A. No person, except those expressly exempted by RCW Chapter 46.20, shall operate a motor vehicle within the City unless such person has a valid driver's license issued under the provisions of RCW Chapter 46.20.

    B. A violation of this section is a misdemeanor and is a lesser included offense within the offense described in Section 11.56.320 or Section 11.56.340. However, if a person in violation of this section provides the citing officer with an expired driver's license or other valid identifying documentation under RCW 46.20.035 at the time of the stop and is not in violation of Section 11.56.320 or Section 11.56.340, the violation of this section is an infraction and is subject to a penalty of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250). If the person appears in person before the court or submits by mail written proof that he or she obtained a valid license after being cited, the court shall reduce the penalty to Fifty Dollars ($50). (RCW 46.20.021)
    You can certainly attempt to defend yourself by arguing that "has a valid driver's license" means "has been issued a driver's license" not "has a valid driver's license [on his person]". You may prevail, as that's not an unreasonable interpretation of the ordinance, particularly in light of the statute being an infraction and the ordinance being a misdemeanor, but I can't promise you that the prosecutor won't seek to reissue the charge under the state statute. I would personally try to get it dismissed as a misdemeanor charge and, if not able to do that or if uncomfortable trying to negotiate directly from the prosecutor, bringing in a criminal defense lawyer.

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