What Happens at a Department of Licensing (DOL) Hearing?

By The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear
Driver being stopped by police

Department of Licensing (DOL) hearings are very difficult to win and have extremely tight deadlines, and it can be hard to know what to do. Whether you have hired a private attorney or are representing yourself, several things must be done right away to ensure you do not miss the deadline to request a hearing. One important note is that Public Defenders cannot represent you at these hearings.

When Do You Need to Request a Hearing?

You will need to request a DOL hearing if you have been stopped or arrested for a DUI and:

  • You refused a breath test
  • You are over the age of 21 and blew a 0.08 or higher
  • You are under the age of 21 and blew 0.02 or higher

The officer will inform you that you have the right to request an administrative licensing hearing. You will also receive an automatic suspension notice in the mail from the Department of Licensing stating that your license will be suspended 30 daysafter the stop or arrest. You only have 7 days from the date of stop or arrest to request a hearing, or you will not be able to stop or delay the automatic suspension. This deadline comes up very quickly and is easy to miss.

If you refuse the breath test and are taken to give a blood sample, the results may take up to 6 months to a year to arrive. You will still receive a suspension notice after the stop or arrest as above on a refusal case since the refusal itself triggers licensing consequences.

If you are not offered a breath test and are taken straight for a blood draw by the officer, you will receive a suspension notice from the Department of Licensing once the blood results are back if the results show:

  • Your alcohol level to be 0.08 or higher
  • Your marijuana level to be 5 nanograms or higher

On a non-refusal blood draw case this suspension notice could come many months after the stop or arrest. You have 7 days to request a hearing, or you will not be able to stop or delay the automatic suspension.

Once you receive this notice, you should request your hearing as soon as possible. If you do not request the hearing within 7 days, you will receive:

  • 90-day license suspension for first offense DUIs with a breath test
  • 1-year license suspension for refusing the breath test
  • Or a longer-term if there are prior offenses

Requesting a Hearing:

You can access the Request for DUI Hearing form on the DOL website. There is a non-refundable administrative fee of $375 that must be submitted with your request. If you are submitting the hearing request form via the mail, you must include the payment in the envelope and ensure it is postmarked within 7 days of your arrest or notice. If you are submitting the form online, you must log in to your License eXpress account to send in the hearing request and payment within 7 days of the arrest or notice.

If you qualify for financial assistance, you may submit a Financial Assistance Application to waive the $375 administrative fee. This form must be submitted within 7 days of the arrest or notice.

We recommend documenting the completion of each of these steps, such as taking photos with date and time stamps, so that you have proof of the request being submitted correctly and on time.

Once you have completed these steps, the DOL will send you a hearing notice with the date of your hearing.

What Happens at a DOL Hearing?

When you request a DOL hearing, the administrative suspension that was set to start within 30 days will be “stayed” – essentially put on hold – until the hearing is conducted and a decision is issued by the hearing examiner. You should access your License eXpress account regularly to check the status of your license.

DOL hearings are telephonic, which means the hearing will take place over the phone. They are administrative hearings which means your attorney can appear on your behalf so you may not need to attend the hearing at all.

The purpose of these hearings is to verify:

  • The officer had a legal reason to stop you
  • The officer had a sufficient basis to believe you were driving under the influence
  • For a breath test or refusal case, proper advisement of implied consent warnings was given, and the breath test itself was properly administered
  • For a blood draw case, the blood draw was properly authorized and administered
  • You either refused the test or you were above the legal limit

If you hire an attorney, they may subpoena the officer to appear at this hearing. If the officer is subpoenaed, they are required to call in on the hearing date and your attorney can question them under oath and on the record.

  • If the officer under subpoena fails to appear without an excuse, your attorney can move to cancel the license suspension
  • If the officer does appear, your attorney gets the opportunity to cross-examine them under oath. The officer may say something that can help your criminal case, such as providing inaccurate information about the traffic stop

The ruling of this hearing can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months. If the license suspension is sustained, you usually have 2 weeks from the decision until the suspension goes into effect.

During this period, you can apply for an Ignition Interlock License which allows you to keep driving during your period suspension with an interlock device and SR22 insurance.

Contact Us to Represent You in Your DOL Hearing

Remember, public defenders cannot represent you in a DOL hearing. You want to hire a private attorney to assist you through this process and ensure that you are not missing any deadlines, that the officer gets subpoenaed in time, and that they have time to look for any issues in the police report. Call us at (425) 224-7075. We will listen to you, answer your questions, ease your stress and represent you in this hearing.

Owner and principal attorney Lance Fryrear of The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear has defended the accused in Lynnwood and throughout Washington for the past 20 years. We will be sensitive and careful every step of the way, doing everything we can to help and support you.

Give us a call at (425) 224-7075 to learn more!

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