We have changed how we handle certain driver license suspensions because of a recent court case, Pierce v. DOL. Revised Code of Washington 46.20.289 required us to suspend an individual’s driver license in specific circumstances, including when the driver fails to appear for or pay a non-criminal moving violation – such as speeding or running a red light. On April 30, 2021, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson ruled that law is unconstitutional because no inquiry exists regarding the individual’s ability to pay fees.
Judge Wilson issued an order on June 1, 2021, preventing DOL from suspending driver licenses who “fail to appear” for non-criminal moving violations starting June 8, 2021. We are also required to release existing non-criminal moving violation failure-to-appear suspensions on June 16, 2021.
“Failure to appear” (FTA) describes situations in which individuals fail to pay fines associated with traffic infractions, fail to respond to traffic infractions, or fail to appear at court hearings related to traffic infractions.
Only FTA suspensions for non-criminal moving violations are affected. DOL will continue to apply FTA suspensions for criminal traffic offenses, suspensions imposed for convictions, and suspensions based on the accumulation of traffic offenses.
Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5226, which changes the FTA suspension law. Effective January 1, 2023, individuals will no longer be suspended for failure-to-pay alone for non-criminal moving violations under the new law. In addition, provisions in the new law address individuals’ ability to pay traffic infractions. The court ruling will end when the new law takes effect.
In Washington state, boat registrations are due to be renewed by the end of June.