In Washington, your driver’s license can be suspended in two ways following a DUI arrest:
- As the result of a civil Department of Licensing administrative hearing (or automatic suspension if you don’t request a hearing)
- As the result of the criminal DUI case
To protect your right to drive, you should seek representation of a veteran defense lawyer at both your civil and criminal cases. At The Law Offices of Smith and White, PLLC, our attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Tacoma and Seattle, our attorneys handle DUI cases throughout western Washington state, Pierce County, King County and the Puget Sound area.
HOW LONG IS THE LICENSE SUSPENSION PERIOD?For a first offense, your driver’s license is suspended for 90 days if your blood alcohol content was .08 or higher. If you refused to take a Breathalyzer or blood test, the suspension period is one year. If your DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, you face a 30-day license suspension.
CAN I CONTEST THE LICENSE SUSPENSION?You only have one chance to attempt to contest the suspension. The officer would have handed you a hearing request form. This needs to be turned in with the $375 fee within 20 days or your license will be automatically suspended. It is smart to consult with a defense attorney to make sure this is all done correctly.
Your defense attorney can help you through the DOL hearing process also. This is very different from most hearings so it can be a little intimidating. It will be done completely over the phone. Plus, the arresting officer is not required to be present. However they can be subpoenaed and you and your defense attorney could decide whether that would be the best strategy in your case.
IF THE SUSPENSION IS SUCCESSFULLY CONTESTED DOES THIS DISMISS THE WHOLE DUI CASE?This is separate from the DUI case itself. However, your defense attorney will look into similar defense strategies. He will examine whether there really was probable cause to stop you in the first place. He will investigate whether you were legally advised of your rights. Plus, he will examine how the breath test was given and whether it was accurate. Some of these strategies may even get the whole DUI criminal charge dismissed. Then the license suspension threatThat being said, it should be noted that this is not automatic. The DOL hearing and DUI hearing are completely separate and the criminal judge is not required to consider the findings of the judge at the DOL hearing (although the reverse may be true). So even if the administrative suspension does get dismissed at the DOL hearing you will still need to go through your criminal case.
CAN I STILL DRIVE AFTER LICENSE SUSPENSION?Our lawyers can help you do that in a reasonable way. You may have heard of an occupational restricted license. However, in Washington, that is no longer an option for those whose license has been suspended due to DUI reasons. What you will want to discuss with your defense attorney is what is called an ignition interlock license (IIL).An IIL will make it possible for you to drive while your suspension is in effect.
WHAT IF I HAVE A COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE?There are ways to save your commercial driver’s license or CDL even if you are facing a DUI charge. Maybe you are hoping that there will not be any penalties to your CDL since at the time you were charged you were driving your personal vehicle. No matter which vehicle you were driving this could potentially threaten your CDL. There is one difference. If you were driving your commercial vehicle and your breath test result was .04 BAC or if there was any amount of marijuana you will then be charged with DUI. In a personal vehicle, the limits are .08 BAC and 5ng of THC through the test. If you refused the test, the potential suspension is the same. No matter what vehicle you were driving if this is your first offense you face a possible 1 year CDL suspension and if this is your second or more offense you face a possible lifetime suspension. You do not want to lose your livelihood.
You have one chance to respond to the DOL license suspension. When you were stopped the officer would have given you a hearing request form. If you were driving your personal vehicle the CDL hearing will be separate and that notice will be sent to you in the mail. In both cases you only have 20 days to respond so you will want to discuss this with your defense attorney to make sure you are taking the appropriate steps. Plus. he can then counsel you on your best defense strategy as you go through the hearing. The license hearing will all be on telephone and you are allowed to be represented by counsel. Contact our lawyers for more information.
TACOMA LAWYERS HANDLING DUI DEFENSE AND SUSPENDED LICENSESTo discuss your case with our Tacoma Driving Under the Influence (DUI) defense attorneys, call (253) 203-1645 or send us an e-mail through this website. We will arm you with the information you need to make sound decisions about your case. Call or e-mail the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.