Once a driver has been served notice of the DOL’s intent to suspend or revoke driving privileges, there is an affirmative duty to request a hearing within twenty (20) days. If the request is not made within that time period it is deemed waived.
DOL Hearing Process
There are several steps you must take in order to secure a hearing and prepare your case. Below is the general procedure for a DOL hearing:
- Pay Hearing Fee
- Request Hearing
- Waiting Period
- Set Hearing Date
- Review Case Details with Your Attorney
Requesting a DOL Hearing
The hearing request must be accompanied by a $375.00 hearing fee or a request to waive that fee in cases of indigency. By requesting the hearing, your driving privileges are protected until there is an actual hearing and a written order of suspension.
Setting a Hearing Date
This whole process can often take two to five months. By not requesting the hearing, the suspension will be set to take place automatically 60 days from arrest. Once the DOL receives the request it will assign a hearing officer and set a hearing date.
You, or your attorney if you’ve hired one, will receive a copy of the police report. In some cases the hearing will be held within 60 days. In many cases, sometimes for scheduling purpose but often for strategic reasons, the initial hearing date is continued. In cases of a continuance, the individual’s temporary license will remain in effect for up to 150 days from the date of arrest or until the hearing officer reaches a decision. All hearing officers are very different in this regard. Some rule within days. Others take months.
Rules of an Administrative License Suspension Hearing
The rules governing Administrative License Suspension hearings are laid out in WAC 308-103, to which a link has been provided for your convenience. These administrative hearings consist of a phone hearing at which you will be represented by your DUI lawyer and the DOL by an assigned hearing officer. You will have the right to testify, present witnesses, present evidence and even to subpoena the arresting officer if you or your attorney so choose. Unlike criminal cases, the DOL only has to prove its issues by a preponderance of the evidence.
The issues to be decided are found on your hearing request form and are as follows:
- Whether you were under lawful arrest.
- Whether an officer had reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or whether an officer had reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state while having alcohol in you system of 0.02 or more and were under the age of twenty-one.
- Whether you were advised of your rights and warnings as required by RCW 46.20.308(2).
- Whether you refused to submit to the test, or if the test was administered, whether the test indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more if you were age twenty-one or over, or 0.02 or more if you were under twenty-one.
Review Your Case with an Experienced DUI Attorney
The rules governing these hearings give broad discretion to the Hearing Officer, who not only acts as the arbiter of the case, but often times the prosecutor as well. Realistically, in order to prevail in this environment, you will need to have an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the Washington DOL, it’s hearing officers, and this forum.