Drivers are entitled to appeal a Washington suspended license that happened as a result of an administrative hearing after a DUI arrest. The process is laid out under Washington’s Implied Consent Law, RCW 46.20.308. The process, however, is anything but simple.

Appealing A Washington Suspended License

First, a driver must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the issuance of the suspension, and must pay a filing fee of at least $230 (depending on county). It is important to note that this is not the date the suspension becomes effective, but is the date that the order was signed by the Hearing Officer and/or the date the notice was mailed to the driver. There is no exception to this 30 day rule, so appeals that are filed beyond this time period will be dismissed.

Second, the suspension will remain in effect during the appeal unless the driver, through a separate procedure, petitions the Superior Court for a “stay” of suspension. If granted, this would allow the driver to retain full driving privileges while the appeal is pending in court. The court is limited to granting stays only in cases where the judge finds that the driver is likely to prevail in the appeal and where the driver would suffer “irreparable harm” by serving the suspension. Each county has its own procedures for handling stay requests, but as a general rule they are treated as a civil motion.

Third, the law currently states that if a driver is issued an ignition interlock driver’s license following a suspension then that driver forfeits his right to appeal an adverse decision. This means that many drivers have to choose between serving the suspension without any driving to pursue an appeal or forgoing their right to appeal in order to use the interlock license.  Appellate courts in Washington are currently considering whether this is lawful.  Hopefully a change is coming soon.

Fourth, appeals generally take a long time to be resolved, usually in the range of 5-9 months, which means that for some drivers the suspension will be over before the judge even hears their case. The benefits of winning an appeal go beyond just the suspension, however, because if the suspension is reversed, it is no longer maintained on the driving record and the collateral consequence of a financial responsibility requirement is lifted. Therefore, it may be important to pursue an appeal even if the suspension itself, or a portion of it, has already elapsed.

Finally, appeals are limited to reviewing the Hearing Officer’s application of the law to the facts of the case.  This means that a driver does not get a new hearing, cannot introduce additional evidence or testimony, or re-argue credibility determinations. Appeals are most beneficial when the challenge is to whether the legal outcome was properly reached.

To learn more about the appeal process, or to discuss your individual case, please contact us.