Phil Weinberg on DOL Hearings
Much information on this topic can be found on the DOL’s website at: www.dol.wa.gov. The information presented here, is an overview of how the ‘system’ works.
Although DOL hearings of every type are generally tough to win, as they are decided by a DOL Hearing Officer who is not an impartial judge and usually will be trying to sustain the department’s suspension action against your license, I’ve still won scores, if not hundreds, of them over my many years in practice in this complex, specialized and often highly technical arena.
You should not make the mistake of either not requesting or not attending your DOL hearing. Hire an experienced DOL Hearing lawyer to help you wade through this process, prepare for the hearing and present your best defense and approach to it. My highest aim is to make certain you understand your options and then try to save your driver’s license from suspension or revocation, or get it reinstated.
Some of the issues and factors relevant to your DOL Hearing that will be considered by the DOL Hearing Officer (who will be the decision maker, unless we lose and then take the loss at the DOL to an appeal in a Superior Court, called a RALJ appeal), are these:
- Whether the police officer that pulled you over or came to the scene of an accident if you got into one had probable cause (called “reasonable grounds” in DOL cases) to believe you were driving under the influence. There must either have been an accident or the officer must have PC (reasonable grounds) to believe you were committing a traffic infraction or have some other compelling, articulable and reasonable suspicion on his/her part that you were driving under the influence.
- Whether you, in fact, were driving while under the influence of alcohol and or prescription, non-prescribed or illegal drugs or alcohol.
- Your arrest – did one occur, and if so, was it legal or not?
- The admissibility of the Field Sobriety Tests (“FST’s”) – if you took those, usually at the roadside, with an armed police officer standing there and with traffic whizzing by on the roadway next to you. This can include evidence as to any physical impairment of the client, head injuries from any accident or collision that might have been involved, how well lit the area was, whether there was a level or paved surface, or one with a gradient and perhaps, gravel, soil or sand, etc., and whether the officer properly instructed you on how to do the FST’s or not.
- Whether you were properly informed of your two main sets of rights (the constitutional rights, aka Miranda warnings, and the Implied Consent Warnings for Breath and/or Blood).
- Whether the officer tested your breath or blood within 2 hours of the stop (i.e., within 2 hours of driving).
- Whether the officer did a mouth check to determine the presence or not of any foreign materials or objects in your mouth, and maintained an uninterrupted 15-minute observation of you, not taking his eyes off of you at all during the observation period, before you provided breath samples.
- Whether, in a blood draw case, the state has adequately established a chain of custody for the vial of blood from the place where it was obtained, usually the ER of a local hospital, to the evidence locker and then to the testing lab,
- Whether, in a refusal-to-blow or alleged refusal to provide samples of your breath and/or blood case — to determine alcohol and/or drug content and levels, you expressed and manifested any confusion to the arresting officer.
- Whether you requested to speak with an attorney, and whether the police made a reasonable effort to put you on the phone with either a private attorney or a public defender, etc.
You should hire an experienced DOL defense attorney right away. You have only 20 days from the date of the stop/arrest for DUI to request a DOL hearing, either by mail or online. If you do not request a DOL Hearing your driver’s license will be automatically suspended.
I offer free case evaluations and initial consultations to thoroughly go over all of these issues with you in detail. So, please do not delay in contacting me so we can start putting together your best Department of Licensing / DOL Hearing Defense. Most clients tell me they feel much better after meeting with me and discussing their case.
I’ve represented clients in hundreds, if not thousands, of DOL hearings in my more than 25 years in practice. My experience and knowledge can make the big difference in the outcome of your DOL Hearing.
Note: the following two DOL grids on Driver’s License Penalties from Administrative Actions — and — the Driver’s License Penalties Following Conviction(s) are found online on the Washington Department Of Licensing website, respectively at:
If you have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), you may also want to look at this information (reproduced from: www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/cdlsuspensions.html:)
Commercial Driver License (CDL) suspensions
When can a CDL be suspended, revoked, or disqualified?
- If your Washington driver license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or surrendered for any reason.
- For the following violations:
- Conviction in court for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Deferred prosecution (DUI conviction)
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more
- Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test while driving any motor vehicle
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle
- Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified CDL
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle (including but not limited to vehicular homicide or assault)
- Committing 2 or more of the violations listed above, in separate incidents
- Testing positive on the Department of Transportation test for drugs or alcohol
- Driving a commercial vehicle while under an out-of-service order
- Committing railroad-crossing violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle
- Being reported as an imminent hazard by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- Committing 2 or more serious traffic offenses within 3 years, in separate incidents
- Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance
Please also know that, if we somehow do not prevail at the DOL Hearing, and if you then drive after losing your license, you could well face having to post a high bond or bail to get released from jail and you will be charged with an additional, separate criminal charge of DWLS (Driving With License Suspended or Revoked), which, depending on the degree of the new DWLS charge, can be a very serious misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charge. It causes a review hearing in your DUI or other criminal case, too, exposing you to being taken into custody or having to post bail, and other sanctions as well. You will possibly then be facing up to 364 days jail time and a $5,000 fine.
More information is available in my DUI FAQ