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Is my license still suspended if I file a Department of Licensing appeal in Washington?

Is my license still suspended if I file a DOL appeal?

Unfortunately, yes. The suspension remains in effect during the entire appeal period unless you can convince the superior court to “stay” your suspension (i.e. stop the suspension from taking effect while your appeal is pending)

To win a stay, you have to show two things:

  1. You're likely to win your appeal; and
  2. You would suffer "irreparable harm" if your license was suspended. This requires filing a separate motion with the superior court, preferably as soon as possible after filing your notice of appeal. 

This is not an easy motion to win.  It's not enough, for instance, to argue that you need your license to keep driving (everyone would make that argument).  You have to show something really compelling, like severe financial hardship. 

Can I still drive during my appeal?

Fortunately, yes.  But, first, you have to get an ignition interlock license (IIL), which requires you to get an ignition interlock device installed in your car. 

Once you have an IIL, you can continue driving without any restrictions during your period of suspension.

To qualify for an IIL, you must do three things:

  • Pay the required $100 application fee to the Department of Licensing
  • Install and maintain an ignition interlock device in your personal vehicle. (There is an “employer exception” that applies if you drive your boss's vehicle solely for employment purposes).
  • Maintain SR-22 insurance during the period of your suspension

To simplify a somewhat complicated subject, SR-22 insurance is technically not a type of insurance. "SR-22" is a certificate that your insurance company files with DOL stating that you carry the minimum liability coverage required in Washington.

If you're lucky, your current insurance company will file this certificate at little or no extra expense, but you may have to purchase additional insurance from a different company that is willing to file an SR-22 certificate on your behalf. This may cost upwards of $1,000 a year.

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