The only way stop an administrative suspension or revocation under the implied consent law on the 61st day following a Washington DUI or Physical Control arrest is to prevail in a DOL hearing. The right to this hearing is not automatic. A driver must request a hearing and submit a fee with the Department of Licensing either via mail or online within 20 days following their arrest.
When I began representing people accused of a Seattle area DUI in 2002, the cost to request a DOL hearing was $100. A few years back, that fee doubled and became $200. On October 1, 2012, the fee will go up to a staggering 375.00! A person may submit an application for a hearing fee waiver to the Department of Licensing, chances of getting it granted are very slim. In order to have the fee waived, a driver must prove that they live at poverty level.
Chances of prevailing at the DOL hearing are not in favor of the driver. Statistically, state wide success rate for driver's who face an administrative suspension following a Washington DUI arrest is about 20% (the attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense success rate for DUI administrative hearings is much higher). So that begs the question: Will it even be worth it spend $375 to request the hearing?
While each case is unique, and the answer to the question above can only be made after consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer, I typically tell my clients that it is in their best interest to request this hearing. The worst case scenario is that a driver will lose the hearing and their license will be suspended or revoked. A driver will not be penalized for having the hearing and incur additional license suspension. The best case scenario is that they prevail and they do not face suspension and are forced to apply for an ignition interlock license. Or new issues may arise due to inconsistent statements made by the arresting officer that can be used later on in the criminal proceeding.
I suspect the fee increase is a result of a major budget deficit plus the desire for driver's to forego their right to request a hearing and instead immediately apply for the ignition interlock license. Before any decisions are made, a driver should consult with a DUI attorney to discuss the facts of their case and discuss all options.
The attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense have years of experience successfully representing drivers in DUI administrative hearings and offer a free initial consultation. They may be reached directly 7 days a week at 425-284-2000.