DUI administrative DOL hearing

The decision whether to request a Department of Licensing (DOL) administrative hearing is complex and I encourage those with questions to contact me. Below is a summary of the major issues to consider.

If a person is arrested for DUI and has a breath or blood alcohol level above .08, or refuses the breath test, the DUI Implied Consent Warning, codified in RCW 46.20.308, requires the officer to initiate the DOL hearing. The threshold breath alcohol level for those under 21 years old is .02. The DOL hearing is also triggered if the person has 5 ng/ml of THC (marijuana) in their blood (0 ng/ml if the person is under 21 years old). The DOL hearing is not triggered by an arrest for impairment of other drugs besides alcohol and marijuana (i.e. prescription or illegal drugs).

If any of the above triggers the DOL hearing, the officer faxes the police report to DOL. DOL then requires the person to request a DOL hearing within 20 days of the person’s arrest. If the person does not request a DOL hearing, they will lose the DOL hearing by default, and the administrative driver’s license will kick in 60 days after the arrest. The length of the suspension depends on whether the person submitted to or refused the breath test, and whether the person has prior DUI arrests. For a first offense, the suspension length is 90 days (if the person submitted to the breath test) and 1 year if they refused. Regardless of the length of the suspension, the person can continue to drive during the suspension if they obtain an Ignition Interlock Driver’s License.

The current cost to request a DOL hearing is $375. If the cost was less, there would be no reason not to request a DOL hearing. But our government does not want you to exercise your rights, so they have increased the fee to request a hearing from $200 a few years back, to an exorbitant $375. If the person is indigent, there is an application that can be returned to determine if the DOL will waive the $375. But the income level to qualify is extremely low. So the question becomes is it worth the $375 to request the DOL hearing, particularly when you can drive during the license suspension with the Ignition Interlock License?

As I discussed on the arraignment page, the court may have already imposed an ignition interlock device requirement before the DOL administrative suspension kicks in. If you already have an ignition interlock requirement from the court, it may make sense to forgo the DOL hearing, save $375, and spend the money on the Ignition Interlock License. If you expect to enter a Deferred Prosecution, there is an Intent to Seek Deferred Prosecution form that can be submitted that stays (postpones) the DOL administrative suspension for 150 days, or more (so long as you did not refuse the breath test). If the person has a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL), a DOL hearing loss will revoke their CDL, even before being convicted of DUI. In this situation, requesting a DOL hearing is a no brainer.

Requesting the DOL hearing does not increase length of the driver’s license suspension. So other than the $375 fee, there is no downside to requesting the hearing (unless you want to just get the license suspension over with, which is sometimes the case). Just because you request a DOL hearing, does not mean you will win the DOL hearing. In fact, statistically, it is more likely than not you will lose the DOL hearing, which means the driver’s license suspension will be imposed.

Bottom line, there is no one size fits all answer to whether the person should request a DOL hearing. After a DUI arrest, the 20 day clock is ticking. So it is imperative to consult with an attorney and discuss your options.

Up next, the chemical dependency assessment and treatment.

Go back to booking in jail after a DUI arrest.