Many people understand that a conviction in Washington State for vehicular homicide or vehicular assault will come with a license suspension. What most folks don’t know, however, is that the license suspension does not begin until after any period of confinement is completed. In essence, the Department of Licensing will not allow a license suspension to run while the person is presumably not driving since he/she is in custody.
When someone is convicted of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, the court sends a notice to the Dept. of Licensing containing the details of the sentence, including the length of confinement. This information is what the DOL uses to compute the start date for the suspension. For example, if someone is given a sentence of 90 days in jail, the license suspension (whatever its length) will not begin until at least ninety days have passed. The problem is that this system does not account for early release credit, or “good time.” The DOL has no way of knowing what the actual release date is for an individual, so it works on the assumption that everyone always serves the complete terms of confinement.
This means that drivers must take affirmative action to inform DOL of their actual release date, so that the suspension commencement can be re-adjusted. This can be done by providing the Department of Corrections Order of Release to the mandatory suspension unit at DOL. This can be particularly important for people transferred to a work release facility who are eligible to obtain an ignition interlock license for driving during the suspension period.
Sometimes, a person convicted for a vehicular homicide or vehicular assault offense is sentenced to a term on confinement but permitted to serve the entire period on work release. If the court does not properly note this on the abstract of conviction that it sends to the court, then DOL will assume the sentence is for total confinement. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that the report of conviction accurately reflects the court’s sentence and that drivers follow up with documentation upon their release from confinement.