DUI License Suspension Hearings

dui license suspension hearing in washingtonIf you are charged with a DUI in Washington, the Department of Licensing will almost always move to suspend your driver’s license.  The process usually begins the night of your arrest when the police officer faxes a suspension notice and police report to the Department of Licensing.  You will also be provided notice of the suspension, which triggers a 20 day opportunity for you to challenge the suspension.  The action to suspend your driver’s license is an administrative proceeding governed by Washington administrative law.

Typically, this hearing is conducted over the telephone and costs $375 to challenge the suspension.  At the hearing, the Department of Licensing will look to see whether there is enough evidence to believe you drove in Washington and either:

  1. Had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher;
  2. Had a blood THC concentration of 5 ng/ml or higher; or
  3. Refused to provide a breath test after being advised of the Implied Consent Warnings for Breath

It may seem like a foregone conclusion that your license will be suspended after reading this.  However, a well-trained DUI attorney can often win these hearings by exposing mistakes made by the police officer.  Police officers rarely testify at DUI license suspension hearings, so their police report is the only evidence under consideration.  Simple paperwork errors can make the difference in winning or losing your license.  It can therefore pay to speak with a DUI lawyer regarding potential options to avoid losing your license.

DUI License Suspension Duration

If you either don’t request a hearing or lose the hearing, your license can be suspended for either 90 days or 1 year, depending on the circumstances of your DUI case.  When you arrested and charged with a DUI, you will be provided a notice of license suspension by the police officer.  You can use this form to request a DUI license suspension hearing and mail it in with the $375 fee.  You can also visit the Department of Licensing website and file your request online.  Because you only have 20 days from the date of the arrest, it makes sense to file online and save all the time you can.

License Suspension Hearing Procedure

Once you’ve requested the hearing, the Department of Licensing will either contact you or your criminal attorney, if you hired one.  You will receive copies of the police reports that are proposed exhibits in the administrative hearing to follow.  You can then prepare your own evidence, subpoena witnesses and prepare briefing for the hearing.  The hearing must be held within 60 days of your arrest.  On the date of the hearing, an administrative law judge will call you or your attorney.  The department of licensing bears the burden of proving that you drove a motor vehicle, that the police officer had a reasonable basis to stop you and to arrest you for DUI, and that your BAC was above a 0.08% (or that you refused the test).  Although that seems simple to accomplish, there are a variety of ways that the hearings can be won if simple mistakes were made.  A dui lawyer can help you decide whether you have a good shot at winning your hearing.