Let’s talk about the DOL (Department of Licensing) hearing that is part of dealing with a DUI charge in Washington State. It’s very important to understand what a DOL hearing is and what action you need to take when you receive a DOL hearing notice in the mail.
Understanding a DOL hearing
- The criminal charge of DUI which is heard in court in front of a judge, and
- An administrative hearing with the DOL, which is conducted over the phone with an administrative hearing officer.
The Difference between a DOL Hearing and a DUI Court Case
A DOL hearing and a DUI court case are two different components and they are handled differently. A DOL hearing is an administrative hearing and not a criminal charge. It is handled over the phone with a hearing officer. A hearing officer can ask you questions over the phone, so you may want to hire a DUI criminal defense attorney to handle it for you. If you have been assigned a public defender for your DUI case, they will NOT handle your hearing with the DOL. An individual can choose to represent themselves, but it is not recommended because of the technical nature of the hearing.
A hearing with the DOL is completely separate from a DUI court case and they have no impact on each other. For example, if your criminal case was dismissed in court, you would still have to proceed forth with your DOL hearing and the possible consequences. The same is true for the other way around, if you win your DOL hearing, this would not affect your criminal DUI case in any way.
20 Days to send in the Form to Request a DOL Hearing
Generally when an individual is arrested for DUI the officer will provide a hearing request form to that person prior to getting released from the station or prior to being taken into custody to jail . The form MUST be filled out entirely and returned to the DOL no later than 20 days from the date you were arrested for DUI. Don’t know when you were arrested, check your ticket, it will show the date. If you fail to request for a hearing within the 20 day deadline or send in your form after the 20 days than your driving privileges will be suspended and notice of the suspension will be mailed to the driver.
What Happens at the DOL Hearing
You will be assigned a date and time on which the hearing will occur. The individual may want to be present or may not depending on the facts and circumstances. However, if the driver is present for the hearing it subjects that person to questioning by the hearing officer.
The Department of Licensing will not make a decision on the date of your hearing. Generally, the Department of Licensing will take approximately 2-4 weeks to write up the decision and have it mailed to all interested parties. If the decision is in your favor than you will maintain your driving privileges with the DOL. If the decision is not in your favor than you will lose your licenses for the amount of days indicated on the notice.
Still have questions about the DOL hearing process, or have you been charged with a DUI? Give us a call and we would be happy to help, 206-459-6392.