Appeal: N. S. v. Dept of Licensing, Case No. 10-2-10775-4 SEA.
Court Rules Due Process Clause Requires DOL to Apply “Safely Off Roadway” Defense to Licensing Hearings.
A King County Superior Court judge has reversed a DOL license revocation holding the State violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when the DOL refuses to apply the “Safely off Roadway” defense to physical control DUI cases. The “Safely off Roadway” defense is written into the physical control law and states a person may not be convicted of DUI if prior to being pursued by police the person moves his/her car safely off the roadway. Historically, the DOL has refused to consider this defense because the implied consent law does not specifically acknowledge the defense. This has meant intoxicated drivers who “do the right thing” and get off the road can still lose their license if arrested even though they cannot be convicted in court of any crime. The Superior Court ruled a person's right to alicense is too great, and the consequences to the DOL too insignificant, to deny a person the right to argue the defense should prevent an unjust license revocation. With this decision, the hope is that the DOL will accept legitimate “Safely off Roadway” defenses and uphold the driving privileges of drivers who “do the right thing” and get off the road when they feel it is unsafe to drive.
Practice area(s): Appeals