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DUI License Suspension

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When you are charged with a DUI, you need to contact a DUI defense attorney at Emerald City Law Group. One of our experienced Seattle DUI lawyers will help you immediately defend against an administrative DUI license suspension and fight for you to avoid an additional criminal suspension. Call 206-973-0407 or contact us online to schedule a free, initial consultation to see how we can help.

If you are currently dealing with driving under the influence charges, you face losing your driver’s license on two different fronts. While both penalties result in losing your driving privileges, they are significantly different. First, you may lose your driver’s license even before going to trial because of a civil, administrative punishment. This is handled by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). Second, your driver’s license may be suspended as part of a criminal punishment upon conviction for a DUI.

Administrative License Suspension (ALS)

The DOL can suspend your license if you refuse to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.20.308, you have already given consent to a chemical test to determine your BAC if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI. Based on this implied consent law, when you are arrested for a DUI and the police ask you to take a breath or blood test, there are consequences of refusal. Failing to take a breath test can result in both civil and criminal punishments. However, refusing a warrantless blood test can only result in civil penalties.

Second, the DOL can suspend your license if the BAC results of one or more tests put you over the legal limit within two hours of driving or being in physical control of a vehicle. If you are over 21 years old, the legal limit is .08 percent. If you are 20 years or younger, the legal limit is .02 percent. If you are a commercial driver’s license holder and driving your commercial vehicle at the time of the stop, the legal limit is .04 percent.

Duration of an Administrative License Suspension

The duration of a driver’s license suspension depends on the reasons for the suspension and your background. For an administrative suspension based on refusing a BAC test, RCW 46.20.3101 states your license may be suspended for one year. If it is your second time refusing to submit to a breath or blood test within seven years, then your suspension may be for two years. If your administrative suspension is the result of a BAC over the legal limit, then the duration of the suspension may be 90 days. A second BAC over the legal limit within seven years will result in a two-year suspension.

Fight a Civil License Suspension Immediately

When you refuse to follow Washington’s implied consent law or have a BAC over the legal limit, you will be given notice of an administrative driver’s license suspension. If you do nothing about this civil penalty, your driver’s license suspension goes into effect 60 days after the date of your arrest. However, you can fight against this civil penalty. It is essential to contact a DUI defense attorney right away since you must request a DOL hearing to oppose the ALS within 20 days of your arrest.

Criminal License Suspension

Whether or not you have to deal with a DOL license suspension, you will face a criminal license suspension if you are convicted or plead guilty to a DUI. The suspension of your driving privileges is one of the most common criminal punishments for a DUI, along with jail time, fines, alcohol or drug counseling, community service, or probation.

Duration of a Criminal License Suspension

Based on RCW 46.61. 5055, if you are convicted of a first-time DUI with a BAC under .15 percent, then your license may be suspended for 90 days. A first-time DUI with a high BAC of more than .15 percent or with a refusal of a BAC test results in a one- or two-year suspension, respectively.

If your conviction is for a second DUI within a seven-year period, you face much longer license suspensions. A second DUI with a BAC below .15 percent results in a two-year suspension. A second DUI with a BAC over .15 percent or with a BAC test refusal leads to a suspension for two and a half or three years, respectively.

Typically, this suspension begins 45 days after the court notifies the DOL of the conviction. If you are already serving a civil license suspension, this time may count against your criminal punishment. However, you may be able to avoid a hard suspension for the full duration. In many situations, you may have to endure a hard suspension with no driving privileges for a period of time. Then you may be able to request limited driving privileges with the use of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

Collateral Consequences of Any License Suspension

You should not take the impending loss of your driver’s license lightly. If you live in an area with public transportation or you expect to rely on friends or family for rides, think about the situation again. Without a driver’s license, your freedom is significantly restricted. Public transportation may not take you where you need to go and other drivers may not be readily available. Your lack of reliable transportation could make it difficult to get or keep a job. Showing up late because of the bus or being unable to make a shift could result in being fired. You may also have trouble getting to class consistently, which could result in lower grades.

If you have custody or visitation with your children, you could face difficulties in getting your kids where they need to go or making it to your scheduled visits. While you may try your best, your inconsistency or inability to fully care for your kids could result in modifications in your custody or visitation schedule in the other parent’s favor.

Reinstate Your Washington Drivers License

Once your suspension period is over, you will have the right to get your license reinstated. You will have to go the DOL and provide your personal information, including your name, date of birth, physical description, driver’s license number, and proof of residency or citizenship. You will need to pay a reinstatement fee and provide proof that you have paid all your other fees and fines. Additionally, you may be required to show an SR 22 insurance form, which demonstrates you have the legally required insurance.

If you are unsure of when you are entitled to reinstate your license, contact the Seattle criminal defense lawyers at Emerald City Law Group today. We will review your case, including the start and end date of your suspension, and advise you on when you can reinstate your license. We will also review whether you have fulfilled the other aspects of your punishment, including paying all your fines.