Being located close to the Canadian border, I get a lot of calls from Canadians who have somehow run afoul of the law down here in the States. Many Canadians are surprised at how vigorously some laws are enforced and how ubiquitous law enforcement is here. But one of the most common problems are Canadian drivers crossing into the States who, to their (unpleasant) surprise, learn they are being arrested for driving with a suspended license or privilege in the 3rd degree.
“How can this happen?” you say, “I don’t even have a Washington driver’s license!” The reality is, Washington, or any state for that matter, can suspend your “driving privilege” for any number of reasons. Most often, such suspensions happen because of an unpaid ticket. Whether it was forgotten or ignored, most states will suspend a person’s driving privilege” for failing to respond to an infraction or pay a ticket that has been found committed. Not only that, but the fine is usually turned over to collections where it will rise astronomically. The State sends notice of all this to the address that the officer who issued the ticket was provided, but, given how long it takes for snail mail to cross the border and how often people move these days, notice doesn’t always reach the driver. Hence, the unpleasant surprise at the border. Once you reach the entry booth, you’re already in Washington and when the nice CBP officer runs your information, the suspension pops up. Even if the suspension is out of California or Texas! You will then be directed to secondary where you will be met by an officer from the municipality you have entered or a Washington State Patrol trooper or county deputy.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that I can resolve these for you, usually as a non-moving, civil (non-criminal) infraction and most often you won’t even have to come to court. Once I am retained we can help you figure out which courts you owe and how to pay them. Once those fines are paid and you license is clear, I can negotiate an outcome that won’t involve you having to appear in court or spending any time in the slammer. Just pay a fine and you’re done! I truly hope this doesn’t happen to you and the best way to assure that it won’t is to promptly contest or pay your tickets. If you do get a ticket or infraction, call me about contesting it. If you get charged with a Driving While License Suspended in the 3rd Degree, give me a call. I can help.