Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Is my license suspended before or after I go to court for my DUI?

If you are arrested for a Washington State DUI—or a physical control charge—it is possible you will face a driver’s license suspension by the Washington State Department of Licensing. Like most states, Washington operates under the implied consent law, meaning when you obtain a driver’s license you are giving implied consent to BAC testing to determine whether you are driving while impaired (This is not to say you cannot refuse those tests, however, there may be penalties for doing so).

Under the implied consent laws, if you refuse to take a blood or breath test when lawfully asked, or if you take a breath or blood test and your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, the DOL will suspend your license, unless you request a hearing to challenge the suspense within 7 days. Prior to January 1, 2019, a driver had 20 days after a DUI arrest to request a hearing to contest a potential license suspension, and the earliest that suspension could occur was 60 days from the date of the arrest. Those timelines were significantly shortened as of January 1st.

A driver must now request an administrative hearing no later than seven days from the date of the arrest, and a license suspension will begin 30 days from the date of the arrest or the hearing date, whichever occurs first. (A hearing must be scheduled no later than 30 days from the date the hearing was requested, and five days’ notice must be given to the driver from the DOL). Between the time of your arrest and the time your license is suspended (or not suspended), you are allowed to lawfully drive.

You may challenge any action the DOL takes, however the burden lies squarely on you. The administrative suspension process and the potential criminal case suspension can be confusing to Washington drivers. The DOL administrative process and potential license suspension will occur even if you are not criminally charged with DUI. This means you could potentially have your Washington driver’s license suspended, even if you are never charged with DUI or physical control. Many drivers believe there is little benefit to requesting and attending an administrative hearing, however, with an experienced DUI lawyer like Barbara Bowden by your side, there is a much better chance you will win the hearing—many drivers do.

Since there are significant benefits of winning a hearing, it is definitely worth taking the time and allowing your Washington DUI attorney to argue on your behalf. When you request an administrative hearing, your attorney will receive a copy of the police report. This can help your Lakewood DUI lawyers build a better defense, both in your administrative case and in your criminal case. Further, at an administrative hearing, your attorney can subpoena and question the police officer under oath regarding any contact he or she had with you at the time of the arrest. Should you lose the hearing, you are still allowed to apply for an Ignition Interlock License, which would allow you to continue driving. Best case scenario, you could win the administrative hearing, keep your regular license, and avoid having an Ignition Interlock License and SR-22 insurance. Contact The Law Offices of Barbara Bowden today to discuss questions about your potential DOL hearing.