If you’re charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Washington state, you’re going to face two sets of charges. The first will be the criminal case against you for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The second set of charges are from the Washington Department of License (DoL). The DoL will hold a hearing that decides if you can keep your license and/or how long it will be suspended for.
In today’s article, we’ll explain what a DoL hearing is. We’ll talk about what you’re likely to encounter as a DUI defendant in a DoL hearing. Read our tips on how to prepare for your DoL hearing. Learn how Washington DUI Lawyer Matthew Leyba will fight for you during your DUI criminal case and DoL hearing. See how you can have a better shot at keeping your license when you hire a law firm like Leyba Defense.
What is a DoL Hearing?
In addition to the criminal charge of a DUI, a Washington State DoL hearing determines if you get to keep your license or not.
After being arrested for a DUI in Washington state, your license is automatically suspended for no less than 60 days. The only way to do avoid this is to file a DoL hearing request.
To request a DoL hearing in Washington, the person charged with a DUI must:
- Mail a written request for a DoL Hearing to the Washington Department of License.
- Pay a $375.00 application fee.
- Submit this request and payment within 60 days of the defendant’s arrest.
By filing for this hearing, your license will not be suspended until your case goes to trial and a verdict is rendered. If you win your hearing, you effectively never lose your driving privileges, and you don’t have to suffer the inconvenient consequences of being without a license.
Should you lose the hearing, the length of your license suspension is determined by:
- Any prior criminal offenses.
- Your level of intoxication during your arrest.
- Your refusal or acceptance of a field sobriety test.
- Any other relevant circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest (i.e. refusing to cooperate with officers, possession of other illegal substances or items, etc.)
DoL hearing verdicts are usually issued in writing after the hearing is complete. A decision may arrive in just a few days or it can take a few months.
How to Prepare for Your DoL Hearing
You’ll only have about an hour to make your case during a Washington Department of License hearing, so you have to be prepared. What can you do to get ready for your DoL hearing? Here are five suggestions to get you started:
1. Retain Legal Counsel
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI and you’re facing criminal charges in Washington and a DoL hearing, you need to hire a lawyer immediately. If you’re trying to win your case and keep your license, you need a professional attorney to represent you. They know DUI law, the Washington courtrooms, the judges, and the best approach for you to take as a DoL hearing defendant.
2. Be Proactive and Informed
If you’ve never faced DUI charges before or been to a DoL hearing, that’s fine. Your attorney can help educate you on the proceedings; however, you don’t want to take a backseat during your defense. Read articles (like this one) that tell you how to prepare for a DoL hearing. Look up lawyers and past cases where the defendant kept their license. Ask your attorney questions about your defense. Understand everything that’s happening during your DUI charges. It’s your license on the line and you can’t afford to lose it.
3. Gather Evidence
The first piece of evidence you need to examine is your case’s police report. Know the exact details recorded during your arrest. A smart defense attorney will search for discrepancies or mistakes in a police report. Other evidence that can help you win your DoL hearing may include eyewitness testimony, breathalyzer results, and questioning the arresting officer.
4. Develop Your Defense
If you want to win your DoL hearing, you need to clarify your defense position and form a plan that executes on your win condition. There are four issues that each DoL hearing looks to resolve – work with your lawyer and find defense strategies that:
- Contest the lawfulness of your arrest (i.e. procedural errors, chain of custody, etc.)
- Contest the “reasonable grounds” the arresting officer had to believe you were intoxicated while driving.
- Contest whether or not the officer informed you of your Miranda rights and suspicion of intoxication.
- Contest the procedures or results of any DUI testing (breathalyzers, blood test, etc)
5. Hope for the Best & Prepare for the Worst
Preparation and information gathering are the best chances you have of winning your DoL hearing. Your ideal result is the charges are dismissed and you get to keep your license. However, even with the best defense strategy, you may temporarily lose the privilege to drive. Do everything in your power to win your DoL hearing — but, be ready to accept a life without your license, too.
DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Matt Leyba Will Fight For Your License
No honest attorney can promise you a favorable outcome for your case. It’s impossible for a lawyer to guarantee you’ll win your DoL hearing and keep your license.
The right lawyer will do whatever it takes to provide you with an informed and intelligent legal defense. A strong criminal defense attorney will be by your side while you contest your DUI charges, and they’ll guide you through your DoL hearing as well.
At Leyba Defense, our track record speaks for itself. We specialize in getting DUI charges reduced or completely dismissed. Our goal is to give you the best legal defense possible and deliver you with an acceptable resolution. We won’t stop working for you until you’re satisfied with your criminal DUI defense and DoL hearing defense.
When you’re facing DUI criminal charges and a Washington Department of License hearing, time is of the essence. Don’t delay in developing the criminal defense you deserve. Contact Matt Leyba at Leyba Defense for a free consultation.