How to Know if Your Washington State Driver’s License Has Been Suspended 

Car Insurance
March 4, 2024
Red and blue flashing lights on top of a police car.

Ever get the feeling a police car is directly in your rearview mirror and so you stare as open-eyed as possible ahead of you while trying not to drink your own sweat? Even the most innocent Washington drivers grow a perspiration moustache at the site of blue and red lights flashing.  

But then there are other times when your palms on the wheel start slipping and sliding because you’re license is suspended and you’re about to be pulled over. 

Are you about to get arrested? Will your car be towed? Can you still get affordable auto insurance in Washington? Well, you should have thought about that before but here is some incredible hindsight: 

Don’t get ahead of yourself. Stay calm. Most importantly, find out if license suspension is an issue before you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. 

How Do I Know if My License is Suspended in Washington? 

The fact that you’re asking yourself that question might be a clue that you have a problem. 

If you haven’t had recent contact with law enforcement or the court system in Washington concerning your driving, you probably have nothing to worry about. But if you’ve deliberately ignored a court summons regarding criminal driving offenses, or you’ve received and ignored an order to file an SR-22 auto insurance certificate with the DMV, you might be driving on a suspended license. 

How to Check if Your License Is Suspended in Washington 

Fortunately, you’ve got several ways to check the status of your license in Washington. Hopefully, you won’t get a ticket after you pull over. If you do get one, check your violation ticket as soon as you get it. Read it to see whether you can simply pay the fine or if you must appear in court. 

Online Tools: Checking Your License Status Made Easy 

For many of us, the fastest and easiest way of gathering information on just about any subject is to go online. For this important topic, visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website. Fill out a few fields and get a quick Yes or No answer as to whether your driver’s license is current. 

You can also call the department at (360) 902-3900 for answers. 

In-Person Options: What to Expect at the DMV 

You may be able to check if your license is suspended at the DMV, but be sure to make an appointment first. If you make an appointment, keep in mind that the DMV only accepts one person per appointment. Also, you will need access to your email address to get a confirmation code for the appointment and your cell phone to check in. 

Common Reasons for License Suspensions 

Generally, you don’t have to worry about getting a driver’s license suspension for a simple speeding ticket or an equipment failure like a broken taillight. 

Washington state driving suspensions are reserved for more serious matters, also known as criminal traffic violations. That can include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or reckless driving, especially if it results in an accident that causes injury. 

Consequences of Ignoring the Law 

You’re at risk of being penalized if you trigger a hit-and-run accident or get stopped for excessive speeding. An example would be driving 60 miles an hour in a school zone. 

You might also get your license suspended for multiple speeding violations over a short period or if you cause an accident and are found to be driving without auto insurance. 

Yet another clue that suspension is a real possibility is if your driving offense causes your arrest or a phone call to someone to drive you home. 

What if You Ignore the Law? 

If you’re stopped in Washington and found driving on a suspended license, you can be subject to a mandatory jail sentence of at least 10 days. The jail term grows to as many as 180 days for repeat offenses. In addition, your period of suspension will expand, so you’ll be without wheels for even longer. 

On top of everything else, you’ll have the high cost of hiring a lawyer and paying steep fines and court costs. You might even lose your job if you miss work for jail time. 

The point is, it’s in your best interest to do all you can to get answers if you even suspect that your license might be suspended in Washington. 

Funny man behind bars, bending the bars and grimacing at the camera, cheap car insurance in Washington.

What Happens If Your License Gets Suspended? 

The good news (relatively speaking) is that your license has been suspended, not revoked or canceled. This means that you can get your driving privileges restored in due time. 

The first thing to know is that you have 15 days to appeal the ruling after you receive a suspension notice. If you plan to appeal, you should hire a lawyer who specializes in traffic violation defense. It won’t be cheap, but it might be your best option to avoid losing your driving privileges. Especially if you think you’ve been unfairly charged. 

In Washington, suspensions are for 364 days or less. But keep in mind that your suspension period could be extended for as much as another year if you’re caught driving on a suspended license. 

If your suspension was due to a DUI, you might need an Ignition Interlock Device installed on your car. This is a sort of breathalyzer that won’t let you start your car engine if alcohol is detected. 

Once your suspension period is over, you can legally drive again with SR-22 Insurance. 

Can You Still Drive with A Suspended License? 

If your license was suspended, you can’t drive in Washington. However, if your ability to drive is critical to your livelihood, it’s possible to apply for an Occupational/Restricted License (ORL). Depending on the seriousness of the charge, whether or not you’ve made a conscious effort to improve your driving record and other factors, you might be given an ORL for use in limited circumstances, such as getting to and from work or taking the kids to school. 

What Is SR-22 Insurance? 

Getting an SR-22 means you get your license back. An SR-22 is paperwork filed on your behalf that proves you have financial responsibility, usually in the form of liability auto insurance. 

As a motorist whose license has been suspended, you’re considered a higher risk to others when behind the wheel. That’s why you must file proof that you can pay for accidents if you’re at fault. 

Your first step to getting an SR-22 document is to contact an auto insurance agent. Your agent will help you find auto insurance and will then submit the SR-22 paperwork to the state of Washington. 

An independent auto insurance agent will probably be your best option. Instead of working for just a single insurance company, independent agents have contracted with several major insurance carriers and can compare offers to find the best rates available on liability auto insurance. 

How To Get Auto Insurance with a Suspended License 

How do you know if your license has been suspended in Washington? One more way is to simply ask your auto insurance agent. Your auto insurer will know as soon as you receive the bad news and can help you start to sort things out immediately. Once your suspension has been lifted, your agent can help you get SR-22 coverage. 

Your independent Vern Fonk Insurance agent can help you every step of the way. Call us at (800) 455-8276 or get a quick quote online. We also encourage you to find a Washington office and agent near you