Washington’s Most Common Crime Shouldn’t be One
SEATTLE (AP) — A new report from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the most commonly charged crime in Washington state shouldn't be a crime at all.
The ACLU of Washington report says taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars a year prosecuting cases of third-degree driving with a suspended license, convicting people nearly 900,000 times since the Legislature made it a criminal offense in 1993.
The crime covers those who keep driving after having their licenses suspended for failing to pay tickets or failing to show up for court hearings. But the report says it effectively criminalizes poverty, sometimes sending people to jail for using their cars to get to the jobs they need to pay their traffic tickets.
The ACLU says it should be treated as a civil infraction, as it already is in some parts of the state, including Seattle, Yakima and Snohomish County.