Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1

    Default What Are Valid Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Washington

    Hi, I have just a few questions and will try to explain them as concisely as possible.

    1. Mens rea...

    Does it apply to a DWLS? Or is DWLS a strict liability charge (like a sex offense)? If mens rea applies, then is it a good defense at trial for me to show that I (mistakenly) thought I had met the conditions of the suspension and whole heartedly believed I was driving legally? And thus there would be no mens rea. I had no idea I was committing a crime. I innocently drove, believeing my license was not suspended. I know ignorance of the law is not a defense, but this is different. I wasn't ignorant of the law, I know it is illegal to drive while suspended, but I did not realize I was still suspended. I thought everything was cleared up, specifically because instructions given to me by a court clerk telling me that everything was cleared up.

    2. Spirit/Letter of Law
    The law I am charged with is posted below....

    • RCW 46.20.342
    • Driving while license invalidated — Penalties — Extension of invalidation.....


    I am charged under 46.20.342 because of conditions referenced and listed in 46.20.289. Law 46.20.289 is posted below, and please pay special note to the sentence in bold.

    • RCW 46.20.289
    • Suspension for failure to respond, appear, etc.
    • The department shall suspend all driving privileges of a person when the department receives notice from a court under RCW 46.63.070(6), 46.63.110(6), or 46.64.025 that the person has failed to respond to a notice of traffic infraction, failed to appear at a requested hearing, violated a written promise to appear in court, or has failed to comply with the terms of a notice of traffic infraction or citation, other than for a standing, stopping, or parking violation, provided that the traffic infraction or traffic offense is committed on or after July 1, 2005. A suspension under this section takes effect pursuant to the provisions of RCW 46.20.245, and remains in effect until the department has received a certificate from the court showing that the case has been adjudicated, and until the person meets the requirements of RCW 46.20.311. In the case of failure to respond to a traffic infraction issued under RCW 46.55.105, the department shall suspend all driving privileges until the person provides evidence from the court that all penalties and restitution have been paid. A suspension under this section does not take effect if, prior to the effective date of the suspension, the department receives a certificate from the court showing that the case has been adjudicated.
      [2005 c 288 5; 2002 c 279 4; 1999 c 274 1; 1995 c 219 2; 1993 c 501 1.]

    My question based upon the laws listed has 2 parts.

    Part 1 (letter of the law): In the sentence in bold above, the law says that the suspension remains in effect until the Dept of Licensing receives a certificate of adjudication from the court. I was pulled over and cited for DWLS on the same day I had my case adjudicated by the court. I received my ticked around 11PM at night on 1/13/2012. Earlier the same morning, at 8AM 1/13/2012, I paid the fine to achieve the adjudication and have my license suspension lifted. Since the transmission is digital, then the notice from the court to the DOL is virtually instant. So it is fair to say that the DOL did in fact receive the notice from the court before I got my ticket, they just had not processed it yet. The law as written does not say a single thing about the DOL processing the notice, only that they receive it. My argument is that they received the notice much sooner than their system reflects having processed it, but received is received, and the law says received - not received AND processed. Also note, I had a hard copy of the adjudication in my pocket when I was pulled over. I had proof of the date/time of the adjudication, and have found out from court clerks that they electronically update a system that is shared with DOL, meaning technologically speaking the DOL receives adjudications near instantly. But they take up to 24 hours to "process" them. The time stamp that should be most relevant is the time stamp from the court showing when I paid the fine, since, as previously stated, the DOL would have received the notice of adjudication almost instantly. The time stamp for when the DOL processes the notice is completely irrelevant, because the law says nothing about waiting for them to do that.

    Part 2 (spirit of the law): Regardless of the lettering of the law, I think the spirit of the law is totally being disregarded by the procescutor persuing this case. The point of the suspension was to get me to pay a $500 fine I had neglected. I had paid the fine, and thought that was my all clear, 11-12+ hours before receiving a ticket for DWLS. A DWLS which was only in place to get me to pay a fine I had already paid. The spirit of the law was to get me to pay my fine, and I did. I missed a few technicalities aftwards, but who was hurt by that? How is justice served by persuing the technicalities when the intended goal was long ago reached (the $500 extortion I paid to have the suspension lifted).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: What Are Valid Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License

    You suggest awareness that your license would remain suspended "until the department has received a certificate from the court showing that the case has been adjudicated, and until the person meets the requirements of RCW 46.20.311." So how is it that your license remained suspended if you complied with RCW 46.20.311?

    You would typically have received a notice from the DMV about your suspension and reinstatement procedures. Did you have a valid address on your license? Did you disregard the content of the notice?

    For a first time DWLS where the defendant appears to have acted in good faith, my experience is that prosecutors will typically reduce the charge or dismiss if the defendant appears in court with a reinstated license and a decent explanation for why they were not aware of the suspension. Why is the prosecutor in your case not offering any sort of reduction? (Prior criminal record? Bad attitude toward the police and/or prosecutor?)

  3. #3

    Default Re: What Are Valid Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License

    Thanks Mr. Knowitall for your reply.

    You suggest awareness that your license would remain suspended "until the department has received a certificate from the court showing that the case has been adjudicated, and until the person meets the requirements of RCW 46.20.311." So how is it that your license remained suspended if you complied with RCW 46.20.311?
    As far as I can tell, RCW.46.20.311 does not apply to my situation, and so it is simply extraneous text in the law to cover other cases. In fact, the second line of 46.20.311 lists the law I was charged under, RCW 46.20.289 as an exception which 46.20.311 does not apply to:

    46.20.311: (b) Except for a suspension under RCW 46.20.267, 46.20.289, 46.20.291(5), 46.61.740, or 74.20A.320, whenever the license or driving....
    So, as I said previously, I think the 46.20.311 is irrelevant. My license was still suspended because the DOL had not processed the certificate of adjudication at the time I got my ticket, so in DOL system I still showed as suspended. However, they had received it from the court before I got my ticket, but did not process it until the next day. The next day, after processing the notification, the suspension was lifted.

    You would typically have received a notice from the DMV about your suspension and reinstatement procedures. Did you have a valid address on your license? Did you disregard the content of the notice?
    This is true. They did send a notice. But, this was many stages back in the process and is no longer very relevant. For whatever reason, I waited until the very last second to pay my fine. The details of why that is the case don't really matter... it is what it is at this point.

    For a first time DWLS where the defendant appears to have acted in good faith, my experience is that prosecutors will typically reduce the charge or dismiss if the defendant appears in court with a reinstated license and a decent explanation for why they were not aware of the suspension. Why is the prosecutor in your case not offering any sort of reduction? (Prior criminal record? Bad attitude toward the police and/or prosecutor?)
    You are correct. They did offer me a deal to reduce the charge. I didn’t take it, and by the time I decided to take it, they would no longer offer it. So again it is a situation where, what transpired pre-trial no longer matters, because it is what it is. The reason I didn't take the deal at first was I felt that, based on what was clearly a mistake, a technicality, and because it is very clear that I thought I was doing the right thing and had taken care of it all, that the prosecutor should dismiss.

    ALSO FYI --- I've learned that mens rea, lack of guilty conscious, does not matter in this case. Driving While License Suspended is a strict liability offense, and it does not matter whether or not you had a guilty mind when committing the guilty action.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I think I can simplify my entire defense to this:

    The suspension on my license at the time I received the ticket for having a suspended license was not valid. Under the law, RCW 46.20.289, my driving privilege was not eligible to be suspended. This is because I had met all of the conditions stated within RCW 46.20.289, required to have the suspension lifted. Including the DOL having received the certificate of adjudication from the court, which is really the only condition that was required to have the suspension lifted in my case. Because the transmission of the adjudication from the court to the DOL is electronic, it is received virtually instantly by the DOL. The adjudication and electronic transmission occurred before I received my ticket, but the police officer had no way of knowing that the DOL had already received the adjudication. I did show her my paper copy of the adjudication, but as she aptly pointed out, she had no way of knowing it wasn't a fake document, and she is obligated to go by what was incorrectly reflected in her system. With the paper work to show the date/time of my adjudication and transmission from the court to the DOL pre-dating the date/time of the ticket, I see no reason for the arresting officer, prosecutor, judge, jury, anyone, to dispute the incorrect application of the law I am charged under in this situation. To sum it all up, I'm not guilty.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-07-2010, 10:27 AM
  2. Suspension and Revocation: Impound for Suspended California License with Valid Ohio License
    By Biotour in forum Driver's Licenses
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 07-26-2010, 10:45 PM
  3. Suspension and Revocation: Driving with Suspended License in New Jersey, Valid License in Pennsylvania
    By padriver02 in forum Driver's Licenses
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-23-2008, 02:23 PM
  4. Driving Valid In One Place, Suspended In Another
    By spec0r in forum Driver's Licenses
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 02-26-2008, 07:10 PM
  5. Suspended Ontario license, but a valid US license
    By grc in forum Driver's Licenses
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-29-2005, 08:45 AM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources