No Fees Unless We Win   206-919-3215
What Happens If You Are Struck by an Unlicensed Driver in Washington?
Posted in Car Accidents on November 2, 2021
To lawfully operate a vehicle in Washington state, all drivers must carry a valid license. Driving without a license can result in serious consequences, whether the driver’s license was revoked, suspended, expired, or never obtained. However, not all motorists uphold these rules.
If you are involved in a car accident with an unlicensed driver, you may wonder what to do next. You still have the right to hold the at-fault driver accountable for your injuries, but you may face challenges when trying to secure damages.
Penalties for Driving without a License in Washington
It is highly illegal to drive without a valid license in Washington. Drivers can face severe penalties if they do not have a license, or if they do not have their license in their possession while driving.
- If a police officer catches a driver operating a vehicle without a license, the driver can face a misdemeanor conviction, up to $1,000 in fines, and up to 90 days in jail.
- If a driver does not have his or her license when he or she is stopped by a police officer, the driver can face a non-moving violation.
It is also illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. If a driver is caught, he or she can face the following penalties.
- First-degree driving while suspended: Drivers who habitually operate a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license will likely receive a first-degree charge. This charge carries up to $5,000 in fines, up to 364 days in jail, and an additional one-year suspension.
- Second-degree driving while suspended: Drivers who had their licenses revoked due to felony charges, driving under the influence, or another serious offense will face a second-degree charge. This can result in up to 364 days in jail, up to $5,000 in fines, and another one-year suspension.
- Third-degree driving while suspended: If the license is suspended due to unpaid tickets, failure to appear in court, or failure to pay child support, the driver will face a third-degree charge. He or she can face up to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.
What to Do After an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
Washington follows a fault-based system when it comes to car accidents. Drivers who cause collisions must pay for their victims’ damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Victims can hold at-fault drivers accountable for their losses through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are involved in an accident with an unlicensed driver, you still have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against him or her. However, you will need to prove that his or her actions caused your accident to secure compensation.
In some cases, unlicensed drivers are also uninsured, and you cannot file a claim against him or her. An unlicensed driver may also attempt to flee the scene of the accident to avoid potential consequences. In these situations, you could recover compensation through a claim against your own insurance, as long as you have the appropriate coverage before the accident. For example, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for your losses in cases where a driver does not have insurance.
Accidents with unlicensed drivers can be complex, and it is important to speak with a Seattle personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and identify your optimal path to compensation. Contact a Washington car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.