Important Changes to the Washington Department of Licensing Administrative Hearing Process Effective January 1, 2019: What You Need to Know
Important changes are coming to RCW 46.20.308, known as the implied consent statute, effective January 1, 2019.
Many of the changes to the implied consent statute are changes to the timing of Department of Licensing (DOL) administrative license suspensions and administrative hearings. The changes occurring on January 1, 2019 will have the effect of shortening the amount of time a driver has to request an administrative hearing with the DOL, shortens the amount of time from notice of the suspension or date of arrest and the DOL hearing, shortens the amount of time between arrest or notice and when an administrative suspension will begin, and shortens the amount of notice the DOL is required to give before an administrative hearing.
- TIME TO REQUEST A DOL ADMINISTATIVE HEARING
The first major change we will cover is the amount of time a driver arrested in Washington for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Physical Control has to request an administrative hearing with the DOL. In Washington a driver may be convicted of DUI if, within two hours after driving, the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, or they are affected by drugs or alcohol (See RCW 46.61.502). However, the penalties from a DUI criminal conviction or charge are not the only penalties a driver arrested for DUI or Physical Control needs to consider. There are also potential administrative consequences.
Until December 31, 2018 drivers in Washington arrested for DUI will have 20 days to request a hearing. RCW 46.20.308(7) currently reads as follows: “A person receiving notification under subsection (5)(b) of this section may, within twenty days after the notice has been given, request in writing a formal hearing before the department. The person shall pay a fee of three hundred seventy-five dollars as part of the request. If the request is mailed, it must be postmarked within twenty days after receipt of the notification.”
From January 1, 2019 and onward, the time to request a hearing will be seven days, a significantly shorter period than the 20 days previously allotted under RCW 46.20.308(7). The statute will read as follows starting January 1, 2019: “A person receiving notification under subsection (5)(b) of this section may, within seven days after the notice has been given, request in writing a formal hearing before the department. The person shall pay a fee of three hundred seventy-five dollars as part of the request. If the request is mailed, it must be postmarked within seven days after receipt of the notification.”
You will notice that the time to request a hearing with the DOL will shorten from 20 days down to seven days effective January 1, 2019 but other portions of the statue will remain the same. A driver will still need to request a formal hearing in writing and will still need to pay a fee of $375 as part of the request for an administrative hearing. There is one exception to the requirement of paying the $375 fee and that is for drivers deemed to be indigent as defined in RCW 10.101.010. In some situations, the department may waive the fee if the driver is determined to be indigent. All drivers must submit the $375 with their request unless the fee is explicitly waived.
- TIMING OF THE HEARING AFTER A PROPERLY SUBMITTED REQUEST FOR DOL HEARING
The next major change to RCW 46.20.308 effective January 1, 2019 relates to the amount of time between the request for a hearing and when the hearing will occur. Effective January 1, 2019, once a driver timely requests a hearing in writing, the hearing must occur within 30 days from 1) the arrest or 2) notice to the driver on a blood result.
The 30 days will be calculated excluding the weekend including Saturdays and Sundays, as well as legal holidays. This new change cuts the amount of time in half from 60 days (effective through December 31, 2018) to 30 days (effective January 1, 2019).
III. CHANGES TO WHEN AN ADMINSTRATIVE SUSPENSION WILL BEGIN
Hiring an experienced attorney licensed in Washington to help with the DOL administrative process is always advisable. However, drivers do not always prevail at the DOL administrative hearing even with an experienced attorney by their side. It’s important to be aware of the potential consequences if a non-favorable result is entered by the DOL hearings examiner, or if a hearing was not timely requested.
Currently an administrative suspension will generally begin within 60 days of the drivers arrest or 60 days from when notice of the suspension was given to the driver following a blood test. Effective January 1, 2019 that time will be cut in half, with administrative suspensions beginning within 30 days of arrest or 30 days from notice of the suspension following a blood test.
- CHANGES TO AMOUNT OF NOTICE FROM THE DEPARTMENT REGARDING THE HEARING
The last change we will discuss to RCW 46.20.308 effective January 1, 2019 relates to the amount of time the department will give between notice of the DOL administrative hearing and the hearing itself. Effective January 1, 2019 the DOL will only be required to give the driver 5 days’ notice of the administrative hearing. This is down from the 10 days currently required of the DOL regarding notice of the hearing.
A driver facing administrative consequences from the Washington DOL after being charged with a violation of DUI (RCW 46.61.502) or Physical control of vehicle under the influence (RCW 46.61.504) will want to act quickly to request a DOL administrative hearing. Hiring an experienced attorney can help a driver navigate through the administrative process. Now more than ever it is important to track deadlines closely regarding DOL administrative hearings. As a result of changes to RCW 46.20.308 effective January 1, 2019 many of the deadlines will be shorter and it is important to keep close track of these changes.
— Corey Riordan
“This information is not meant to be taken as legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Gravis Law”