Effective January 1, 2019, at 1200am the long standing Department Of Licensing (DoL) procedural rules governing administrative drivers license suspensions and revocation will drastically change. The time line is LESS than previous. It has long been an ACTION item for drivers that are arrested for suspicion of DUI or Physical Control, and previously an arrested person had 20 days to request a hearing and challenge the proposed licensing action by DoL, and beginning January 1, 2019 that time has been reduced to just seven (7) days.
This change was legislated and buried deep within a legislative package in 2016, and so many are somewhat surprised as it was a little known change and even if it was known, its effective date of January 1, 2019 was more than 2 years beyond the changes in the bill that were effective June 2016. While many that have learned of the change recently this past month are outraged at the lack of time an arrested person now has, I believe that this change will not have the immediate effect that the powers that be want or think it will have.
Lets back up a moment—while I have been advising my staff to be on high alert as January 1, 2019 approaches and have modified all my initial literature I provide to clients to reflect this new deadline, most attorneys are being advised by DoL with the following letter. Along with this letter is a sample DOL hearing request.
Back in Sept of 2018 the DoL underwent a shut down in order to update their computer systems. When they came back online, it was not smooth. Since these systems are responsible for scheduling hearings and assigning hearing officers and computing the timelines, many problems occurred in this area, and these problems were such that administrative suspensions did not happen as planned by the DoL. Meaning, the Due Process DUI arrestees are required to be afforded, was not provided, and as a result licenses suspensions and revocations did not happen. I for one, in 17 years of DUI practice and having done thousands of DoL hearings never saw so many procedural violations that led to DoL dismissals. This new timeline, says Roger Goodman, was his proposed legislation and project designed to shorten the time to take someone’s license in the name of public safety. While this is a understandable goal, it is advanced in the face of an accused person’s due process rights. Traditionally, drivers have always been given a notice period that is in keeping with Constitutional Standards, which is more than 7 days.
As I was suggesting above, notwithstanding the potential Due Process violation, this new change is unlikely to have the desired effect of swifter DoL action. The DoL is responsible for responding to the arrested person’s request, and scheduling a hearing in a shorter time period than before with the shorter period imposed on drivers. The DoL previously had 60 days to schedule a hearing and now has 30 days. Also, the DoL, previously had to provide 10 days notice of the hearing being set, and now has to provide at least five (5) days notice.
Here is the comparable sections of the statutory changes that take effect January 1, 2019.
Until DoL can streamline their already cumbersome process to adhere to the rules, the shortened timelines are unlikely to work as desired. The procedural due process challenges will ultimately come, but first they have to comply with new rules as do arrested drivers. At least in Whatcom County DUI arrested citizens should not miss the 7 day window because everyone arrested is booked into jail and will have contact with someone who will advise of this important timeline. Those arrested in non-booking counties will need to be a little more diligent in seeking experienced DUI advice, but with a crime as serious as DUI in Washington State, delaying a DUI consult is unwise. Of course the best DUI Defense is to not drink alcohol and drive, but it is legal to do so as long as your not over the limit (.08 BAC or 5ng THC), and should you need dedicated and experienced advice I am a phone call and free consult away.