Sleight & Boyd Law Offices
902 Esther Street,
Vancouver, WA 98660.
FAX: (360) 690-0068
All drivers who are charged with a DUI in Washington (despite their state of licensing) with two breath test result of over .08 (if over 21) or two results over .02 (if under 21) or who refuse a breathalyzer test, are subject to an administrative hearing with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). Drivers who are subject to the Administrative Hearing are referred to as "Petitioners" by the Department.
The most common issue with Department of Licensing hearings is an unintended "default". Default takes place automatically if the Petitioner fails to have a Hearing Request postmarked within 20 days of the incident date of the DUI. If a Hearing Request is not timely postmarked the DOL will automatically enter a license suspension in Washington on the 60th day from the DUI arrest and additionally communicate notice to any out-of- state driver's state of residence. It is important to note that all drivers subject to a DOL hearing will receive a letter from the DOL indicating a license suspension on the 60th day. It is important to note this is a warning letter and the suspension will only come to pass within this exact timeframe if default occurs. Sadly, many who receive this letter perceive that requesting a hearing is not necessary if the suspension is inevitable.
When a timely Hearing Request is communicated to the DOL several timeframe obligations then shift to the Department. Namely the Department has to provide notice of the hearing date and time to either the Petitioner or the Petitioner and the Petitioner's attorney within 10 days of the administrative hearing. Second, the Department has to schedule the hearing initially within 60 days of the arrest date. If the Department fails to meet either of these criteria the Department loses jurisdiction and cannot proceed with the administrative action. A Petitioner who receives notice of the hearing with the sufficient 10-day notice and has a hearing set within 60 days of the arrest date can request an extension of the hearing out to the 90th day from incident. The Petitioner's license stays valid during this extension.
Administrative Hearings before the Washington Department of Licensing take place over the telephone. The Hearings Officer is the party who conducts the hearing and has four statutory issues they review under a preponderance of the evidence standard. These issues are outlined in the Implied Consent statute in Washington found at RCW 46.20.308(7). If the Hearings Officer determines that any of the four statutory issues have not been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence the administrative hearing will be dismissed. If, on the other hand, all four issues are demonstrated by a preponderance the action will be sustained and the license suspension will be ordered. It is important to note that the Hearings Officers have no latitude- they can only dismiss or affirm there is no negotiation or middle ground outcomes that can be reached. Generally Hearings Officers will reach final decisions within 30 days of the hearing date. Under statute a decision can be reached as far as 60 days following the hearing. Just like a hearing continuance, during the deliberation process the Petitioner's license remains valid.
If a decision to suspend the Petitioner's license is reached an appeal of the Hearing Officer's decision can be filed in the Superior Court in the county the arrest took place in. Appeals are generally limited to errors of law under RCW 46.20.308(8). Factual or credibility determinations made by the Hearings Officer during the initial hearing are generally not subject to appeal unless the record does not support the determination made.
Don't let a DUI conviction ruin your career or future. Call us today at (360) 690-0064 to schedule a free DUI consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.