DUI Q&A Series - What's the Difference Between DOL and Court?



With any DUI charge in the state of Washington, there are two components to the case. First, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will take administrative action against your license by either suspending or revoking it for a period of time. Second, you will be charged in criminal courts. The interaction between these two bodies can be complicated, so hiring somebody who's familiar with both the DOL and the criminal court system is important when approaching a DUI charge.


It's important to understand that in any DUI charge, there are two different parts to your case.

You'll be charged in the criminal courts with a DUI but there's also an administrative action that the Department of Licensing takes against your privilege to drive.

If you give a breath test above 0.08 or you refuse a breath test, the Department of Licensing will take action against your license by either suspending or revoking it for a period of time.

You have the ability to challenge this by requesting a hearing within seven days of the date of your arrest.

On the other hand, it could take months or even in some cases a year or more before your case actually is charged in the court system.

These two processes are separate but they both could affect your driver's license.

The Department of Licensing process typically will take place in our office by telephone whereas the court process will almost always take place in a courtroom.

In both settings, your driver's license could be implicated.

In the Department of Licensing setting, you could lose your license for 90 days or even more depending on your prior history, but that's all that can happen.

If you do lose your license through the Department of Licensing, don't worry.

There's a temporary license almost everyone is eligible for.

If you'd like to know more about that, let us know.

We're happy to answer that question for you anytime.

In court, you could be sentenced to jail time, fines, probation, and more.

In addition, your driver's license can also be suspended as a result of a criminal conviction for DUI.

If you're worried about a double license suspension, don't be.

You should be able to get a day for day credit from your DOL suspension against any court suspensions.

Because the Department of Licensing process is not a criminal process, you are not entitled to a free attorney.

A public defender cannot help you with your Department of Licensing process.

It's important to have a guide to walk you through both sides of this process. Someone who's familiar with both the administrative process and the court process and understands why and how those two things are different.

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