Have you received a Washington administrative license suspension following a Washington State DUI arrest and wanted to appeal but didn’t because you would have to give up the option of driving on an Ignition Interlock License (IIL)? In 2008, the Legislature passed a statute (RCW 46.20.385(1)(b)) that forced drivers to choose between appealing a bad ruling by a DOL Hearing Examiner and driving on an IIL during the suspension period. Under this scheme, appealing an erroneous decision meant, in most cases, that those drivers had no ability to drive whatsoever during the suspension, whereas drivers who did not challenge the suspension were able to use the IIL.
Fortunately, this grossly unfair disparity was challenged and the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that the DOL’s system was unlawful. Nielsen vs. Department of Licensing, 177 Wash. App. 45 (2013), argued by attorney Ryan B. Robertson, held that the statute was unconstitutional because it deprived drivers of meaningful access to judicial review of administrative suspension. In other words, it was unreasonable to burden a driver’s ability to appeal a license suspension by forcing them to forgo the benefit of using an IIL.
This development was an important step in securing drivers’ rights and protecting procedural fairness. The problem now is that the statute itself has not yet been changed, so it still suggests that obtaining an IIL will result in a waiver of the right to appeal an adverse decision. Thus there is still some public confusion about drivers’ rights following an administrative suspension ruling. For additional information, consulting an attorney who handles DUI defense in Washington can help clarify your individual circumstances.