Written by attorney Sean Andrew Bratner

What’s going to happen to my driver’s license after I am arrested for a DUI in Washington state?

If you are arrested for DUI in WA, a driver’s license suspension can result from either the criminal case filed against you or the Department of Licensing administrative action.

Department of Licensing administrative action:

Once arrested for DUI, the officer/trooper will take you to a police station and request that you take an alcohol breath test. If you blow over the legal limit (.08 if 21 or older, .02 if under 21, and .04 if driving a commercial vehicle), your license will automatically suspend, starting 60 days after the date of your arrest. If you refuse the breath test at the station, again, your license will automatically suspend 60 days after the date of arrest. To determine the length of the suspension, refer to page 3, "Department of Licensing - DUI Adminstrative Sanctions and Reinstatement Provision," on the webpage linked below:

Can I fight the DOL administrative action/suspension?

If you blow over the legal limit or refuse the breath test, the only way to try and prevent the automatic suspension from occurring is to request an administrative hearing. To do this, within 20 days of the arrest you must send in the hearing request form and pay the $375 hearing fee (price starting October 1, 2012). The resulting administrative hearing will then be held over the phone. The decision to suspend or not suspend your license will be made by a Hearing Examiner after hearing legal arguments made by your attorney.

If my license is suspended, is there any way I can still drive?

If your license is suspended by a DOL administrative action, you can still drive throughout the suspension with a valid Ignition Interlock License. Getting this license mainly involves installing an ignition interlock device (commonly called a “blow n’ go") in your car. To receive an Ignition Interlock License, you must submit proof of ignition interlock device installation, proof of SR-22 insurance, and a $100 fee to the DOL.

Criminal Case:

If you win the DOL hearing and prevent the license suspension resulting from a DOL administrative action, your license can still be suspended if you are convicted of DUI or Reckless Driving. If you are convicted of DUI and you have no prior offenses (DUI convictions or Reckless Driving/Neg 1 convictions if you were originally charged with DUI and it was reduced), the suspension is 90 days if your BAC was under .15. If your BAC is over .15 or if you refused the breath test at the station, the suspension is 1 year. You will get credit towards these suspensions for any time you have already been suspended through a DOL administrative action. Also, you can still drive during these suspensions with a valid ignition interlock license. If you are convicted of Reckless Driving, your license will be suspended for 30 days. You can still drive during these 30 days with a valid “Occupational" license (allows you to drive to and from work), but you will not receive credit towards the 30 day suspension for any time you have already been suspended through a DOL administrative action.

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