If you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington State then you face two separate legal actions. One obviously is with the Court system. The other legal action is with the Washington State Department of licensing. As of 10/1/12 the fee to deal with this second legal action increased from $200 to a whopping $375.
As a Seattle DUI Attorney it is my opinion to always send in the hearing request fee and challenge the DOL administrative license revocation. Not only is it a great source of investigation for the criminal case. You can question the arresting officer, and try out legal arguments with DOL that may be used in the criminal case. But with the new increased fee many people may not be willing to shell out almost $400 to challenge this license suspension. Especially when statewide there is around a 20% dismissal rate on these DOL administrative hearings (although Leyba Defense is much much higher).
My opinion is this increase is due solely to budget issues, and DOL trying to get an increase in operating revenue, as opposed to trying to screw over those involved in a Seattle DUI arrest. As far as whether or not to send in the DOL hearing request form, still do it.
As I stated before Im a Seattle DUI Attorney. This is what I do for a living. The DOL hearing is a great way to investigate the case. You can subpoena the arresting officer. Everything they say at the hearing is recorded. Thus if they get caught in a lie or say something that is inconsistent with what they wrote in the police report then boom you have it later to impeach their credibility. In addition its a great tool to use for negotiation. If you can prevail at the DOL hearing on a legal issue. Even though that outcome is unrelated to the criminal case. You can still provide that written ruling to the Prosecutor in an effort to negotiate and point out an administrative hearing Judge who applies the same law and facts as the criminal Judge would dismissed the legal action.
Bottom line. This new fee may discourage some people. But in my opinion, still send it in. Especially if you want to help yourself in your criminal DUI case.
Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney in downtown Seattle. His practice focuses exclusively on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses. If you have been arrested for a DUI call our offices for a free 60 minute consultation.