Whether it is a Seattle DUI arrest or a DUI arrest anywhere in Washington State, it will include the DUI officer punching a hole in your driver’s license if your breath test is over the legal limit, or if you refuse to take the test. Washington State DUI law does not specify that a hole must be punched in the license. RCW 46.20.308(6)(c) is cryptic and states that the DUI officer shall…“Mark the person’s Washington state driver’s license or permit to drive, if any, in a manner authorized by the department.”
When a driver’s license is punched the privilege to drive is not invalidated but as a practical matter, the license is useless as identification and will not be accepted by car rental companies. In effect, the hole that the DUI officer punches in the license actually deprives the driver of the use of that license, all without due process of law. All citizens are entitled to due process, even those arrested for DUI in Washington State.
The DOL could have authorized any number of methods of marking the license that would not deprive the driver of the use of the license, such as a mark with indelible ink, a sticker, or otherwise. The current practice of punching a hole in the license of a Washington State driver who is under arrest for DUI amounts to a taking of property without due process of law since the hole is punched at the time of arrest, prior to any judicial adjudication of the validity of the DUI arrest or the accuracy of the breath test results.
2017 Update: Consistent with due process and amendments to the DUI laws, police no longer punch a hole on one’s license. They are required, however, to provide you with a form to request a DUI licensing hearing if the DOL intends to suspend your license. Whether you received the form or not, it’s always a good idea to contact a reputable DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.