In California and Washington, the DMV (in California) and the DOL (in Washington) can automatically suspend your driver’s license in a number of situations. This can occur even before a DUI conviction. In both states you have a short amount of time to request an administrative hearing in hopes of preventing the license suspension. Aside from a DUI charge, one may be in jeopardy of losing his or license in situations where the driver has been deemed physically or mentally unfit to drive, has failed to appear on a traffic infraction matter, or has fallen behind in child support. A license suspension can quickly become a logistical nightmare in carrying out your family and work responsibilities, but there are options you can pursue to appeal the suspension and make your best effort to win back your driving freedom.
DMV/DOL Administrative Hearings
You have the right to appeal either a DMV or DOL license suspension in an administrative hearing conducted by an examiner associated with the respective agency. Hearings must be requested by filing a request for a hearing and paying a hearing fee.
In Washington, you have the right to have an attorney represent you at the hearing who can take over the duties of defending your license privileges. The examiner will determine issues such as whether you were lawfully under arrest for the underlying charge (e.g. whether you had the requisite BAC or whether the officer was within his rights in stopping or arresting you). You or your attorney may call and/or cross-examine witnesses, examine the evidence, and present your own testimony regarding the facts. The examiner will then provide a decision on your license suspension. The timing of that decision can vary, but it is rarely provided immediately after the hearing.
In California, the DMV administrative process is much the same, and a hearing must be requested within 10 days of receipt of the notice against your driving privileges. As in Washington, a California driver has the right to have an attorney represent the driver at the hearing, and may present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and testify on his or her own behalf.
Appealing an Adverse Administrative Hearing in State Court
If the DMV or DOL administrative hearing does not result in a reversal of the suspension, a driver in both states has the right to appeal the adverse decision in a trial court.
In Washington, a driver has 30 days from the time of your suspension order to appeal in court. The driver must file a notice of appeal in the Superior Court of the county in which he or she was arrested. The driver or the attorney can present written documents and oral arguments, and the trial court will determine whether the DOL made any legal errors in upholding the suspension. The trial court can affirm the license suspension, overturn it, modify it, or send it back to the DOL for reconsideration.
In California, the process for appealing an adverse DMV administrative decision is again similar to that of Washington’s. A driver or the attorney will give a notice of appeal with the California Superior Court, technically called a Writ of Mandate, and present arguments to the court about why the DMV hearing officer acted improperly in upholding the suspension. California drivers also have the option of appealing an adverse DMV administrative decision within the DMV itself by requesting that a supervisor review the initial decision.
Seek Assistance from an Attorney Focused on Appeals, Including Appealing License Suspension Decisions
While a license suspension may seem less dramatic than the imposition of jail or prison time, it can have a huge effect on your family, work life, and finances. Working with an attorney who understands the process of helping drivers navigate the license suspension appellate process can be invaluable in helping you protect your driving rights and getting your life back to normal. For help with your California or Washington license suspension, or if you have already obtained an adverse ruling from the DOL or DMV, please feel free to contact attorney Corey Evan Parker at 949-753-2855 if the incident occurred in California or 425-221-2195 if the incident occurred in Washington