Trusted Washington DUI Attorney for License Suspension

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Washington’s DUI laws are among the toughest in the nation. Even if you are never convicted of DUI, you can face substantial penalties and serious legal consequences. Critically, mandatory license suspension accompanies every DUI arrest in which a breath test was refused — or when the breath test was at or above the legal limit.

If you have been arrested for DUI, you should be aware of the appropriate steps to take to protect your license. It’s also essential to have a skilled DUI attorney on your side who can ensure your legal rights are safeguarded. The Fox Law Firm PLLC provides skillful advocacy for those who have been charged with DUIs — and fights to preserve their driving privileges.

Can You Avoid DUI License Suspension?

Once a DUI arrest has been made, the officer will provide you with a DUI Hearing Request form. This form allows you to legally inform the Department of Licensing that you wish to save your license and avoid the mandatory automatic suspension. The instructions for requesting the hearing are listed on the form. Importantly, you only have seven days to request a hearing from the date of the arrest or, as the law puts it “from receipt of notice.”

How to Request an Administrative DUI License Suspension Hearing

There are two ways you can request an administrative hearing to fight the suspension of your license. First, you may send in the DUI Hearing Request form by mail. However, be sure to obtain proof that you mailed it in a timely manner by obtaining a “certificate of mailing” from the post office at the time of mailing. Additionally, it’s crucial to be aware that the Department of Licensing will not honor your request for a hearing if you do not also include the $375 fee with the request (except in the case of indigent citizens).

The second way that you can request a hearing is to do so online. Washington State DUI defense attorneys differ in their approach on this point as some attorneys believe that it is best to mail the form, whereas others believe that requesting a hearing online is the better procedure. In any event, be sure not to miss the seven day deadline. If you fail to meet the deadline, the DOL does not have to grant you a hearing. While there may be an exception in cases involving blood tests, it is best to consult with a DUI attorney regarding this matter.

Usually within two weeks following a DUI arrest, the driver will receive a letter from the Department of Licensing stating that the license has been suspended for 90 days or more depending upon circumstances. This does not mean your DOL hearing was denied, if it was timely requested.

How Does the Department of Licensing Determine Whether a License Should be Suspended?

The burden of proof for the Department of Licensing to sustain a license suspension is lower than the burden of proof in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, since the Department of Licensing administrative hearing is a civil quasi-judicial action, the burden of proof is lower —“a preponderance of evidence.”

The DUI license suspension hearing is held by telephone, and the arresting officer is not required to participate unless subpoenaed by the defense. In addition, the functions of “prosecutor” and “judge” are performed by the same person—an employee of the Department of Licensing. While it can be challenging to prevent license suspension under these circumstances, there are legal defenses that can be presented by the defendant.

At a DUI license suspension hearing, the defense may question whether:

  • There was probable cause to detain or arrest the driver
  • The proper legal advisements were given to the driver
  • The breath test was properly administered
  • The breath test is accurate in the scientific sense

If the driver prevails at the Department of Licensing administrative hearing, the underlying DUI charge must still be defended if the license is to be saved.

What Happens After a License Suspension Hearing?

Following the Department of Licensing hearing, a defendant will still be required to appear in court for their criminal matter. The DOL hearing and court process are two separate actions. A DUI conviction in court carries a license suspension or revocation penalty that is separate from the administrative consequences discussed above.

If the Department of Licensing sustains the order of suspension or revocation, the driver then must decide whether to apply for an Ignition Interlock license or appeal the Department of Licensing decision — they can also do both. These are tactical and practical decisions that should be considered in light of the specific circumstances of each case.

Contact an Experienced Washington DUI Defense Attorney

It is commonly said that “driving is a privilege and not a right.” Legally speaking, this is a correct statement of the law. But it is also true that driving is a necessity for people who need to get to and from work, who have day care concerns, who live in rural areas, or who are not served by public transportation. If you would like further information about what happens following a DUI arrest, call the Fox Law Firm PLLC at (425) 274-9190 for a complimentary consultation.

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