If arrested for Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) in Washington State, a person will know if he is facing a driver’s license “suspension” (anything less than a year) or “revocation” (one year or more) if his license has an asterisks punched in it by the officer who made the arrest. The officer will most likely also give the person a DUI Hearing Request form. Thereafter, the Washington State Department of Licensing (the “DOL”) will take steps to suspend the arrested person’s driver’s license. To even have a shot at stopping the suspension/ revocation, a person must fill out the DUI Hearing Request form and affirmatively inform the DOL that he wishes to stop the driver’s license suspension/ revocation. The form itself lists the instructions for requesting a hearing to stop the driver’s license suspension/ revocation. The form must be completed and sent (either by mail or via the internet) to the DOL no later than 20 days from the date of the arrest; the department must receive it within 27 days from the date of arrest.
If sending the form to the DOL by mail, it is best to send the form via “certified mail” or “certificate of mailing”. This is because once in the mail, a person loses possession and/or control of the form and must have a way to prove that he sent the form to the DOL if the DOL claims they never received it; the DOL does not have to honor a person’s request for a hearing if he does not timely request it. A DOL hearing costs $200. Thus, the hearing request must include with it payment of the $200 fee (check if by mail, credit card if by internet), unless the person can prove he is indigent, in which case the $200 fee is waived.
It is extremely important to note that approximately two weeks after a DUI arrest in Washington State, the person arrested will undoubtedly receive a form letter from the DOL stating that his driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. This form letter is sent to every person arrested for DUI in Washington State that either has a BAC over the legal limit (.08 for adults, .02 for anyone under the age of 21), or allegedly refused to take a breath/ blood test when lawfully requested by law enforcement. This letter is just reaffirming what the hearing request form already told the person — that his license is going to be suspended in 60 days from the date of the arrest. The person should still complete and send the DOL hearing request form notwithstanding this letter; by sending the form, the person is forcing the DOL to prove that there is a lawful basis to suspend/ revoke the person’s driver’s license. If requested, The DOL must set a hearing within 60 days of the person’s arrest by law enforcement.
A DOL hearing is conducted by telephone and generally covers four simple issues: (1) was the person lawfully arrested, (2) was there reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving under the influence, (3) was the person read his implied consent warnings pursuant to Revised Code of Washington 46.20.308, and (4) did the person take a breath/ blood test and was it over the legal limit or, alternatively, did the person refuse to take a breath/ blood test when lawfully requested. Generally the DOL tries to prove all four issues by way of a sworn report from the arresting officer. A DOL hearing is a civil administrative action and therefore, the burden of proof is by a “preponderance of the evidence,” not by “beyond a reasonable doubt,” like in a criminal proceeding. These types of telephonic proceedings are undeniably tough, but most certainly not impossible; retaining a seasoned Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible can make all the difference in the world.
In addition to the foregoing, it is also important to note that even if a driver wins his DOL administrative hearing the underlying DUI charge must still be defended in the criminal justice system. In other words, the DOL hearing has no bearing on any criminal charges that may arise out of a DUI arrest in Washington State; the actions are separate and distinct regardless of the fact that they may have arisen out of the same course of conduct.
Because of the significant driver’s license implications a Washington State DUI can have, it is imperative that a person arrested for DUI in Washington State retain either a qualified Seattle DUI attorney or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and to protect his driving status. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle/ Bellevue DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for and/or charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.
If you or a loved one is arrested for or charged with DUI in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 for an initial free consultation.