If you have been arrested for DUI in Washington state, you have 20 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing before the Department of Licensing (DOL) to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. If you do nothing, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically, whether you are convicted of DUI in criminal court or not.
At The Law Offices of Smith and White, PLLC, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your DOL hearing. With offices in Tacoma and Seattle, our attorneys handle DUI cases throughout western Washington state, Pierce County, Kitsap County, Thurston County, King County and the Puget Sound area.
WHAT IS THE DUI HEARING? The hearing occurs by phone. The DOL hearing officer will review four issues related to your arrest:
- Did the police officer have reasonable suspicion to pull you over?
- Did the police officer have probable cause to arrest you and administer the Breathalyzer test?
- Were you validly read the implied consent warnings? Did you express any confusion?
- Did you either refuse to take the test or blow over .08?
While the issues you can argue are limited, there are hundreds of technical defenses. It is to your benefit to have a veteran Tacoma Pierce County DUI defense attorney represent you.
Requesting a hearing gives your attorney an opportunity to subpoena and cross examine the police officer who stopped you. We like to do this because there is no prosecutor at the hearing to object to our questions. To use a poker analogy, it gives us an opportunity to see the opponent’s hand before we start betting.
The DOL hearing process is very different from most hearings so it can be a little intimidating or confusing. It will be done completely over the phone. Plus, the arresting officer is not required to be present. However, as previously mentioned, the officer can be subpoenaed and you and your defense attorney can decide whether that would be the best strategy in your case. It is usually the advisable course of action.
Although this is separate from the DUI case itself, 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 charge dropped. Then the license suspension (as part of the criminal prong of the case) threat drops too. Wouldn’t that be a relief? That being said, it should be noted that this is not automatic. The DOL hearing and DUI hearing are completely separate and the DUI judge is not required to consider the findings of the judge at the DOL hearing. So even if the administrative suspension does get overturned at the DOL hearing you will still need to go through with the other hearing. On the plus side it also means that if your experience at the DOL hearing does not go in your favor it doesn’t necessarily mean the DUI hearing won’t. But it would be a good sign if the methods at the first worked – even though the judge doesn’t necessarily have to consider the findings of the first judge (s)he will be using the same rules of evidence.
TACOMA DUI DEFENSE LAWYERS FOR DOL HEARINGS To discuss your case with our Tacoma DUI Defense attorneys for DOL suspension hearings, 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.