February 9, 2022
What is a Department of Licensing DUI hearing?
Hi, my name is Roger Priest with VanWa Legal PLLC and I’m a local DUI attorney in Vancouver, Washington. Today I want to clear up an issue that often confuses my clients, which is what is an Administrative DOL hearing regarding my DUI. If you’ve ever been charged with a DUI, you were likely handed a piece of paper by the officer along with a bunch of other pieces of paper and explained to that you needed to request a hearing within seven days to try to avoid your license suspension.
Oftentimes, I have clients come in for an initial consultation and they’ve done some research on the issue or have no idea what that form means at all. In Washington you can face a potential license suspension, not only if you are convicted of DUI, but merely by the fact of having been charged with a DUI. How? Well in Washington, law enforcement is required when they make an arrest for a DUI that you either blow above a .08 or that you refuse a breath test, they are required to send a sworn declaration copy of their police report to the Department of Licensing to begin an implied consent suspension of your license.
DUI Process To DOL
In Washington you have given implied consent to provide a breath test for any DUI charge. It is part of the contract that you implicitly signed when you got your own license. In such an instance, law enforcement sends that information into the Department of Licensing and that begins a process to suspend your license within 30 days of the date of your arrest. If you do not request a hearing to challenge that license suspension within seven days, then you have no right to fight that license suspension. Now if you send that request form in and request the hearing and pay the fee for what that hearing costs; you are entitled to a telephonic hearing with an administrative law judge. The administrative law judge represents the Department of Licensing action and weighs the evidence to determine whether there is sufficient evidence that you drove the car that you were arrested in, following enough evidence by law enforcement to believe that you were DUI, and that you then either blew over a 0.08 or refused a breath test.
Now you may ask yourself if I was arrested and I blew over why would I request that hearing? However, there are, in many instances, potential technical defenses which can cause you to win that hearing even if at an initial viewing you think you won’t just so you can kind of break it down. Roughly one in five people win these hearings and many of them did in fact blow over the legal limit. So how will you know if you should request this hearing or not? Unfortunately, Washington does not make it particularly easy for you to determine if you’re going to win before you decide whether to have the hearing. It is nearly impossible to get a copy of the police report and have an attorney review that before the seven-day deadline. So, in many instances you have to decide whether you want to request that hearing without having the benefit of having viewed the evidence or gotten particular advice from an attorney regarding your police report. What I typically tell clients is if $375 dollars for the hearing is not too much of a cost for you and you want and you’re okay with it; maybe a one in five chance of winning there is no harm in requesting the hearing. The worst that can happen is that your license is suspended, which it would have been anyway. In the best-case scenario, you might avoid a license suspension altogether.
Now it’s important to understand that requesting this hearing and winning this hearing is not the only way to save your license. Washington does have a restricted license that you can apply for called an ignition interlock license. if you are charged with a DUI and facing a suspension, you can apply for this restricted license which will allow you to continue to drive over the term of your suspension, so long as you have an ignition interlock device installed in your car and that you carry additional insurance that allows you to have a certificate on file with a department of licensing called an sr22. If you have both of those things and can afford both of those things, then Washington will grant you this restricted license to allow you to drive over the term of your suspension. So, in any instance whether you win, lose, or draw; or should I say simply don’t request the hearing you still have an option and a pathway to continue to drive as needed.
If you have questions about your particular DUI case and would like to talk to an experienced attorney, give us a call at VanWa Legal. I’d be happy to discuss your case with you and see if there’s something I can do to help you have a great day.
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