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DUI Administrative Hearings

You only have seven days from arrest to request one.

· DUI,DWI,Driving Suspension,DUI Arrest,Washington State

I can't believe you forgot to ask for the hearing we told you about somewhere in the template form we gave you in the middle of the night last weekend.

Surprise! DUI arrests trigger two sets of proceedings that can affect your license and insurance costs. As you would probably expect, a DUI initiates criminal proceedings. These begin with an initial appearance & arraignment and result in a series of hearings ending in a negotiated settlement, dismissal, or trial. This is what you would expect, right?

What bewilders many clients, and attorneys alike, is a 2019 law that only gives drivers seven days from the date of arrest to request an administrative hearing at the Department of Licensing. See section (7). That's right, that's seven days from the date of arrest! Failure to ask for the administrative hearing results in the automatic suspension of your license (you can drive during this time with an ignition interlock device and an IID license), and an expensive SR-22 requirement for three years. The length of the suspension varies from 90 days to 2 years depending on your DUI history. The suspension applies even if your criminal case is dismissed, or you negotiate a deal that doesn't require these restrictions.

How can someone who hasn't even hired a lawyer yet, or been appointed a public defender, supposed to know about this deadline? I don't think anyone has an answer to that. Unfortunately it feels like bureaucratically suppressing these hearings is the point. Wait a minute, didn't I see something about the origin of this rule in a movie once?

So now you know.

Whether you are appointed counsel, or hire privately, it is critical that you act fast.

It is possible that a lawyer who reviews your case will tell you that it isn't worth the cost. That is fine - a lot of people come to the reasonable conclusion that a hearing is just not in the cards.

You requested the hearing within seven days - now what?

You get a telephonic administrative hearing. The date and time will be mailed by the DOL to you and your attorney. At the hearing, the administrative law judge will rely on any police reports submitted to the record by the jurisdiction that pulled you over, any testimony elicited at the hearing, and any documents filed by your lawyer. Who is present depends on how you or your lawyer want to handle the hearing. Issues range from heady constitutional arguments about the basis for the stop, technical arguments about the administration of tests, to whether the officer simply forgot to check one of the 10+ boxes in DUI report. Through public records requests, zealous DUI lawyers have compiled records of the top winning arguments at these hearings. 

Good luck!