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The dilemma with a punched Washington driver's license

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Jun 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Anyone arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in Washington and is taken back to the police department for a breath test who either blows over the legal limit or who refuses the breath test will have their Washington driver's license punched by the arresting officer. This punched license does not mean the license is suspended or revoked. Instead, it means their license is "temporary" and set to be suspended on the 61st day following their arrest.

The driver will receive some paperwork from the arresting officer which includes a hearing request form to contest the license suspension. At the bottom of the form is a dotted line where the driver is supposed to detach it and carry it with their license. It specifically states that the license is only good for 60 days following the arrest. The Department of Licensing (DOL), upon receipt of the arresting officer's police report, will send a letter of notification of suspension or revocation effective the 61st day following arrest.

Only if the driver accused of DUI does not request a hearing with the DOL to contest their revocation or suspension will have their driving privileges cease on the 61st day. Should the driver request an administrative hearing, then the license suspension/revocation will not happen on the 61st day. It will only occur after the hearing and if their is an adverse decision. Most Seattle DUI attorneys (including myself) typically request a continuance of the hearing and the hearing examiner takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to issue a decision. Hence, the license suspension can occur literally months following the DUI arrest.

The Department of Licensing will not issue any new notifications regarding the extension of the temporary license. Many of my clients are very concerned that the only slip of paper they have with their punched Washington license says their license is not valid past 60 days. I assure these driver's that in the rare situation if they were to be pulled over, the officer would be able to ascertain that their license is still valid.

I have also had clients who have presented their license and it not being accepted as a legitimate form of identification. While the law is clear that a punched license is still valid, many people are unaware of this fact.

So anyone who faces this dilemma and wants verification can obtain the current status of a Washington driver's license by going to the DOL website. It only takes a few seconds if they have a license number. The page can be found by going to: https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdDriverStatusDisplay.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 16 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.

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