Twenty (20) days. Mark your calendar. That’s the deadline for sending a request to the DOL to try to save your license from suspension or revocation following a DUI arrest. If you have been arrested for DUI, there is a good likelihood that the police officer has reported your arrest to the Department of Licensing (DOL) and the suspension or revocation of your license is imminent. The DOL will punish you by taking action against your license even if you ultimately are found innocent of the DUI charge. In most cases the officer will have given you a form called a “hearing request” which, when sent to the Department of licensing within 20 days, gives you a chance to fight for your license. Read the form carefully and when you send it in, be sure to include the fee (or waiver, if indigent) or the DOL will not process your request.
If you took the breath test and the reading was .08 or higher your license will be administratively suspended for a minimum of ninety days or more, depending on your record.
If you refused to take the breath test, your license will be administratively revoked for one year or more, depending upon your record.
Remember, “administratively” means that the DOL takes action outside of the court system and in many cases, before any court proceedings have started.
The officer should have given you a notice called a Hearing Request form. The officer gives the notice to the accused where a breath test is administered and the result was .08 or higher (.02 if a minor), or where a test was refused. This is required for all arrests where a breath test is administered and the result was .08 (.02 if a minor) or higher, or where a test was refused. If you lost the form, or wish to request a hearing online, the DOL has an online hearing request form and a competent attorney who practices DUI defense should have one as well.
If you took a blood test, usually the Department of Licensing will send the notice and form to you. The Hearing Request must be mailed to the DOL within 20 days of the date you received the notice (usually it is received on the day of arrest) along with a check for $375 (waivable if you are indigent) in order to get a hearing to fight the “automatic” suspension/revocation.
If you take no action or miss the deadline the DOL will suspend or revoke your license. This is true even if you have valid legal defenses to the DOL action and even if you are found innocent of the DUI charge. For most people, the opportunity to fight to save the driver’s license is critical. Under the DUI laws a driver may apply for an “Ignition Interlock License” which, depending upon the timing, can result in no loss of the ability to drive. However, under the ignition interlock license, the ability to drive is conditioned upon the driver having installed in his/her vehicle and ignition interlock device. There is an exception to the requirement for the device in the case where an individual is an employee, driving an employer-owned car on legitimate company business. Under those circumstances, the employer must sign a declaration under penalty of perjury (certain “waiting periods” apply). Washington’s DUI laws now constitute a complex matrix of choices that must be made by a driver almost immediately after a DUI arrest if the choices are to be made intelligently. The 20 day deadline is one of many reasons that it is important to have a seasoned DUI defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible after a DUI arrest.
Questions? Call Jon Fox (425) 274-9190.