What is a Department of Licensing Administrative Hearing? Should I request one?
Explanation of Washington's DOL administrative hearing upon an arrest for DUI.
Upon DUI Arrest, You Have 20 Days to Request a DOL HearingIf you get stopped and arrested for a DUI, the police will typically notify the Washington Department of Licensing who will then take action against your driver's license. This "action" is usually the suspension of your privilege to drive. You have 20 days from the arrest to request the hearing.
The length of the suspension depends on the breath result of the DUI or the result of the blood draw. A breath result of between .08 - .15 will result in a 90 day license suspension. An over .15 BAC result will cause a 1 year license suspension. A refusal result will cause a 2 year license suspension.
If you do not request a DOL hearing, your license will be automatically suspended. If you drive during the suspension period, you could be charged with a crime and be in violation of your release conditions.
DOL Hearing ProcessThe process is that DOL will send a letter to the last known address they have for you notifying you of the suspension, so make sure they have a good address. The law will not care if you failed to update your address and did not receive the letter. You can also check your driver's status on-line on DOL's website.
In order to request the hearing, you must pay DOL their required fee of $375 dollars. This fee is simple to request the hearing. There is a separate fee waiver form that you can fill out as well if you are facing financial hardship. You can request the hearing on-line through DOL's website or via their form (also available on their website).
When you request the hearing, your suspension will at least be tolled until you get a hearing and a decision, which typically takes a few weeks.
The HearingAt the hearing, you can address a few limited issues. These include the lawfulness of the arrest, the reading of your rights and warnings pursuant to the implied consent statute, the breath test procedure, and the breath test result.
You will then be notified of a decision, usually by mail, and then your license suspension will either be upheld or overturned.
Even if you win the DOL hearing, this is usually not the end of the story. If you get convicted of a DUI, you will face the same license suspensions as listed above based on the BAC result.
ConclusionDon't forget that you can usually still drive during the suspension period with an ignition interlock license. Occasionally, certain other limited licenses are also available.
It is important to discuss this facet of a DUI case with your attorney!