Understanding Your DOL DUI Hearing That Comes WIth Your Spokane WA DUI

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If you have just been charged with a DUI in Washington State, you are understandably focused on the criminal consequences.  You want to know how much jail time you are facing, or possible fines.  What you may not realize is that your arrest for DUI has triggered an administrative action with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

I Wasn’t Booked Into Jail – Was I Arrested?

You should know that you can be “arrested” for DUI and not have been physically booked into jail.  Sometimes the officer or trooper will take you home, have someone pick you up, or call you a cab.  You still have been “arrested” and should have been given several pieces of paperwork. One of those pieces of paperwork should be the form you fill out and send in to request a hearing with the Department of Licensing.  If you did not receive this paper, you can go to dol.wa.gov and print one off.  Remember, in addition to the criminal action, your arrest has triggered an administrative action.

DOL Action Is Completely Separate From Your Spokane Criminal DUI Case

This administrative Department of Licensing action is completely separate from what happens in DUI court.  For example, if your criminal case were to resolve with a conviction for a non-DUI charge such as reckless driving or negligent driving, you are still facing an administrative Department of Licensing action.  If your criminal case were to be completely dismissed, you are still facing an administrative Department of Licensing action.  The same is true for the impact a Department of Licensing ruling.  If you win your administrative hearing, it has no impact on your criminal case.

Isn’t Making Me Have a DOL Hearing and a DUI Criminal Case Double Jeopardy?

Immediately you may ask “what about double jeopardy”?  Sadly, that does not apply.  Double jeopardy only applies to criminal actions.  The Department of Licensing is an administrative agency.  Although double jeopardy does not apply, you are still entitled to due process.

But You Are Still Entitled to DUE Process!

What is due process?  This means you have a right to request a hearing before the Washington State Department of Licensing suspends or revokes your privilege to drive in the state of Washington.  To take advantage of your due process, you have to request the hearing, it does not automatically happen.  This gets back to the paper you should have been given by the arresting officer.

What Happens If I Don’t Fill Out the DOL Hearing Request Form?

What happens if you do not fill out the form?  Your license, or privilege to drive in the state of Washington for those who do not have a Washington issued license, will automatically be suspended and there will be nothing you can do to stop it.  If your address is current with the Department of Licensing, you will receive written notification which generally says, because you were arrested for DUI your privilege to drive will be suspended beginning on x day and lasting for x number of days.  Now, if you have requested your hearing, this suspension will be put on hold until the outcome of the administrative hearing.

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How Much Does The DOL Hearing Cost?

You are probably wondering how much this will cost.  The administrative hearing costs $375.00.  You will have to pay this at the time you mail or e-request your hearing.  You can make your hearing request on line at dol.wa.gov if you have a Washington driver’s license and you are paying the $375.00.

Indigence Waiver Qualification

Now, if your household income is below a certain monthly amount, you may be entitled to a waiver of the $375.00 fee.  If you have been granted a public defender, you should qualify for the fee waiver.  To apply for this, you have to fill out an additional form.  This form is not generally given to you by the officer.  You will need to go on line to dol.wa.gov and print off the indigencey form and mail it in.  You will still have to mail in the hearing request form as well.  Notice, the addresses for where the two forms get mailed is different.

Make Sure You Fill The Forms Out Completely

When filling out forms you need to make sure you do so completely.  The Department of Licensing is unforgiving if you forget to sign your name, attach any paperwork or do postmarked or requested a hearing in time.  If you are requesting a waiver of the $375.00 fee, you will notice that the address for where to mail the fee waiver and the address for where to mail the hearing request are DIFFERENT.  I always tell clients to keep a copy of everything you mail or send.

If you have applied for the fee waiver and mailed the hearing request you will get a letter from the Department of Licensing.  If your request has been granted, you will receive notice of your hearing date and time.  If your request has been denied, you will get a letter telling you that you need to send in the $375.00 by a certain date to still get your hearing.

Important! You Are On A 20 Day Deadline to Make the DOL Hearing Request.

You are on a deadline!!  You need to have your hearing request postmarked no later than 20 days from the date of your arrest.  If you do not know what day you were arrested, your ticket should say.  When counting the 20 days, count every day including weekends and holidays.  If you are worried you will forget, send it right away.  Again, if you get it postmarked after the 20th day, your request will be denied and the automatic suspension will go into effect according to the letter you received.  Remember, if you have a Washington driver’s license you can apply online at dol.wa.gov as long as you are not requesting a fee waiver (indigence waiver). Double Check with a Qualified Spokane DUI Lawyer to make sure that this is still the law. The law changes every year. This article was written in late 2014. 

Some Differences Between Your Spokane DUI Court Case and Your DOL Case:

Finally, there are differences between the administrative Department of Licensing hearing and your court hearing.  Your court hearing is presided over by a judge.  You need to physically be present.  The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt and your attorney can bring up facts and circumstances not related to the incident when they are negotiating or at sentencing.

With the administrative hearing, it is presided over by a hearings officer.  It is a telephone hearing.  The issues for the hearing are limited and your previous lack of criminal history, your charity work, etc. are NOT relevant.  A hearings officer can ask you questions, unlike a judge, so you may want your attorney to handle it for you.  Due to the technical nature of the hearing, I recommend you have an attorney handle this.  If you have been appointed a public defender, they will NOT do your DOL hearing.  There are private attorneys who will handle your Department of Licensing hearings, for a fee.

When Do I Get A Decision About My License Suspension From the Washington Department of Licensing?

The administrative decision will usually not be made right away. This decision will come in writing to the address they have on file for you.  If you have not updated your address with the Department of Licensing, make sure you do so by going to dol.wa.gov.

This is just one small portion of what is going on when you are arrested for a DUI in the state of Washington.  Make sure you speak with an attorney who is familiar with handling these matters as soon as possible.

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