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 date the suspension notice was issued and must pay a filing fee to the superior court of at least $240 (depending on county). The effective date of the suspension does not start the 30-day clock – the important date for calculating is the date the notice was mailed to the driver. There is no exception to this 30-day rule and appeals filed beyond this time period will be dismissed
Second, the suspension remains in effect during the appeal unless the driver, through a separate procedure, petitions the court for a “stay” of suspension. If granted, this allows the driver to retain full driving privileges while the appeal proceeds. Courts may not grant stays unless the judge finds that the driver is likely to prevail in the appeal and that the driver would suffer “irreparable harm” by serving the suspension. Drivers can apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license (IIL) for restricted driving during an appeal if they do not qualify for a stay. Note: the IIL does not permit driving commercial motor vehicles.
Third, appeals take a long time, usually in the range of 5-6 months. For many drivers, the suspension ends before the judge hears their case. Even so, a successful appeal produces some valuable future benefits. For example, if the suspension is reversed it is no longer maintained on the driving record and the collateral consequence of a financial responsibility requirement is lifted.
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 involves questions of law, not factual disputes.
To learn more about the appeal process, or to discuss your individual case, please contact us.