When charged with a DUI in Washington State, an individual will have to address two separate components;Red Phone

  1. The criminal charge of DUI, which is heard in court in front of a judge, and
  2. The Department of Licensing Hearing, aka DOL hearing, which is conducted over the phone with an administrative hearing officer.

Understanding the Department of Licensing Hearing

Many people are unaware that a Department of Licensing Hearing stems from a DUI charge.  Handling the DOL hearing is a critical part of dealing with a DUI charge, so it is very important to understand what the DOL hearing is and what action needs to be taken.

A DOL hearing is an administrative hearing, it’s not a criminal case.  The hearing is handled over the phone with an administrative hearing officer, it does not take place in person or in a court of law.  A hearing officer can ask questions over the phone, so it is in a person’s best interest to hire an experienced DUI attorney to handle it for them.   A reputable DUI attorney will instruct and guide an individual through the DOL hearing process.  If a person has been assigned a public defender for their DUI case, the public defender will NOT handle the DOL hearing.  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.  They have no impact on each other. For example; if a person’s criminal case was dismissed in court, they would still have to proceed forward with their DOL hearing and the possible consequences. The same is true for the other way around; if an individual wins their DOL hearing, this would not affect their criminal DUI case in any way.

20 Days to Request for a Department of Licensing Hearing

Most often when arrested for DUI an individual will be taken to the police station for processing.  Prior to being released from jail or prior to being taken into custody, the police will provide a paper DOL hearing request form.  This form MUST be filled out completely and mailed (post marked) to the Department of Licensing within 20 days of the DUI arrest date.  If a person cannot remember the date they were arrested, they can check their ticket.  If the DOL request form is not sent within the 20 day deadline, than driving privileges will be revoked for a period of time.  The Department of Licensing will mail notice of this suspension to the driver indicating the total length of suspension.

The Actual Department of Licensing Hearing and Decision

Once a DOL hearing request form is received, the Department of Licensing will assign a date and time on which the hearing will occur.  If an attorney is hired for the DOL hearing, Department of Licensing Hearing - DUI Chargethey will be on the phone with the hearing officer.  The attorney will decide if the person charged with DUI should be present on the phone or not.  This decision usually depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.  If the person is present on the phone, than they may be questioned by the administrative hearing officer.  Or if a person represents themselves during the hearing, they will be subject to questioning.

The Department of Licensing will not make a decision on the date of the hearing. Generally it takes the DOL approximately 2-4 weeks to write-up the decision.  The decision will then be mailed to all interested parties.  If the decision is in an individual’s favor, they will maintain their driving privileges.  If the decision is not in their favor than they will lose their license to drive for the amount of days indicated on the notice.