Guide to For-Hire Driver's License Enforcement Appeals
What is this guide?
This guide summarizes the hearing examiner process for for-hire driver appeals. It is meant to help laypersons, and carries no legal weight. The examiner invites questions.
Who is the examiner?
The examiner is appointed by the King County Council to hold hearings and issue decisions on appeals of King County’s Records and Licensing Sections (RALS) orders regarding for-hire drivers. The examiner is a neutral decision-maker, like a judge. The examiner’s office works for the council, not for RALS.
How about access?
Sign language interpretation is available, for free, by calling TDD Number (206) 296-1024. Non-English language interpreters are available, for free. For those with travel barriers, contact the examiner to discuss alternatives, like appearing by telephone. Call (206) 477-0860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make requests early in the process
How do you start your appeal?
People who receive a RALS order may appeal to have the examiner hear the King County portion of the case. There is no appeal fee, but the following three requirements must be met:
The deadline to submit your appeal is 24 calendar days after RALS issues its decision. When RALS personally serves an order, the clock starts ticking that day. When RALS mails an order, the clock starts ticking on the date RALS mails it, not on the date you actually receive it.
Getting your appeal statement to a post office by the deadline is not sufficient. RALS must actually receive your appeal by the deadline (and mail delivery often takes several days). Untimely appeals are not allowed—there is no flexibility. This may not seem fair, but it is the law. You can submit your appeal via:
- mail or in-person (check https://kingcounty.gov/depts/records-licensing.aspx for office hours) at 500 Fourth Avenue, Room 403, Seattle, WA, 98104
- email to ForHireDriver@kingcounty.gov (ask RALS to confirm receipt); or
- facsimile to (206) 296-4029.
Your appeal statement must include:
- Either a copy of the RALS decision(s) you are appealing or the RALS file number(s) and decision date(s);
- A description of your interest in the case (for example, you are seeking a license);
- The error(s) you think RALS made in its decision (“That infraction was dismissed,” or “I pled to a lesser offense,” or “ happened, but ,” etc.);
- Specific reason(s) why you think the RALS decision(s) should be reversed (“ should not result in me losing my license,” etc.) or modified (“The penalty is too high,” etc.);
- How RALS’s order(s) harms or would harm you (“Without a license, I ____”); and
- What outcome(s) you seek (“Overturn the denial,” or “Reduce the fine,” etc.).
While your appeal does not have to include all the evidence (like a document) you want to submit to support your appeal, it does need to include all the matters or issues you want to raise—see (c) and (d) above. If you are not sure about exactly what to say, make sure you still get an appeal, even if imperfect, delivered to RALS by the deadline.
If you get your initial appeal to RALS on time, the examiner has authority to later allow you, prior to the hearing, to modify or add to the issues you originally raised. But the Examiner has no authority to hear an appeal if your original appeal statement did not arrive at RALS on time. Whatever you do, make sure RALS receives your appeal by the deadline!
Filing a timely appeal does not prevent you from resolving your case without going to a hearing. It simply preserves your right to object to RALS’s decision. Otherwise RALS’s decision becomes final and unchallengeable once the appeal deadline passes.
What if RALS denied both a county and a Seattle license?
The examiner only has jurisdiction over the portion of RALS’s decision related to your county license. If you wish to object to the denial of a license to pick up passengers in Seattle, you need to appeal to Seattle. The final page of RALS’ decision lists those details. Be aware, Seattle’s appeal period (10 days) is much shorter than the county’s (24 days).
Can I still drive while my appeal is being processed?
If you are a new for-hire permit/license applicant, or you are a previously permitted/licensed driver with a break in service of greater than one year, you may not carry passengers until the examiner decides your case.
If you are a current permit/license holder, and RALS denied your renewal application, or suspended/revoked your driving privileges, you may continue to carry passengers while the examiner considers your appeal. If your current (including temporary) permit/license expires prior to the examiner issuing a decision, you must obtain a new (or extended) temporary permit/license from RALS.
Is mediation a possibility?
Mediation may be available. First check Examiner Rule V (link at end). To initiate mediation,make a written request early in the process.
What can you expect before a hearing?
At least two weeks before a hearing, the examiner will send out a notice. Read that notice carefully. It sets the day, time, and format (telephone, video, in-person, etc.) of the hearing. It often includes initial interpretations of the issues for hearing and thoughts on potential resolution. It sets deadlines for amending the issues you raised in your appeal statement (as described above) and for sending any information required before the hearing
Two weeks before a hearing, RALS submits to parties, interested persons, and the examiner a report summarizing the issues and providing most or all of the documents RALS intends to offer as exhibits at the hearing. Read these carefully.
RALS’s files on a case are public records; anyone wanting to review the entire file prior to the hearing may arrange this with RALS (by email to email@example.com or by calling (206) 263-1977). Anyone may request examiner documents as well; examiner records are usually available electronically, typically at no cost.
Who can participate in the appeal process?
Normally, only RALS and the person who filed the appeal are involved in matters like (re) scheduling a conference or hearing, setting deadlines, making or responding to motions, and in deciding what evidence to present, witnesses to call, and questions to ask in a hearing.
Others with an interest in the case may request “intervenor” status to become a party. Please review Examiner Rule X.B (link at end) for information on requesting this. Intervenor requests are not automatically granted, but are reviewed on a number of specific criteria.
What typically happens at an appeal hearing?
What is the timing and format of the hearing?
Hearings are usually held in the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. Be on time, or you may forfeit your right to participate. Very occasionally a prior hearing runs overtime and delays the next hearing’s start. Please enter the room quietly (proceedings are recorded), refrain from side conversations, and turn off all phones.
What are the usual issues?
While every case is different, in general, certain items (such as omitting essential information on your application, or a conviction related to driving under the influence of alcohol) result in mandatory denial. Other items (like an assault conviction or several lesser driving infractions) might or might not result in a denial.
Can I challenge a previous conviction or infraction?
No. An examiner cannot reconsider what the police, prosecutor, defendant, or court should have done in a past case. You may explain, or provide the context for, a conviction or infraction, but where your record says otherwise you may not dispute that you committed a crime or violation. Instead, the examiner decides whether, given your record plus any new information, to grant your appeal.
How will the hearing go?
- Because RALS carries the burden of proof regarding any issues or matters you raised in your appeal, RALS must go first. RALS presents testimony and offers its documents, typically only those RALS sent out two weeks before the hearing. Although examiners have a lower threshold for admitting evidence than courts do, you may offer specific objections to any documents. You may question any witness.
- Then, it is your turn to offer testimony and any documents; RALS may raise objections and ask you questions. RALS may also question any witness you present.
- For an in-person hearing, anyone wanting to introduce a document should bring at least three copies. (Check the examiner’s written notice for any pre-hearing deadlines.)
- Afterwards, each party has some time to respond to what the other party presented, followed by brief closing statements.
- At any time, the examiner may ask questions.
- All testimony must be under oath, which means examiner swears in each witness.
How can I present the best case?
Carefully read the notice the examiner sends out. Effective testimony and argument often explain how a specific law applies to your case. Presentations can be in the form of notes, written statements, photographs, documentary records, and visual aids.
Statements offered during the hearing, under oath and subject to cross examination (questioning), are generally given the most consideration. You may present documents and testimony describing any work you have done to address the situation.
What about hearing records?
Your hearing will be recorded, and you may request a copy of the recording and any documents. Depending on the volume of data requested, there may be a duplication cost, although the examiner’s office maintains most records digitally.
What happens after the hearing?
Within ten business days (meaning weekends and holidays are excluded) of the hearing’s close, the examiner sends a final decision, which includes findings of fact based on the hearing record and conclusions drawn from those findings. It may wholly grant the appeal, wholly deny the appeal, or do something in the middle (modify conditions, reduce fines, etc.).
Examiner decisions end with general information for how to appeal. The examiner can offer no additional instruction beyond that written information. It is an appellant’s responsibility to determine and meet the exact requirements for filing an appeal.
What is the proper way to communicate with our office?
While you may contact the examiner with procedural questions, any questions/statements related to the substance of the matter should be raised at a conference or hearing, or made in writing and addressed to all parties. Examiner staff screen correspondence and calls to prevent prohibited contacts to the examiner from either party. In general, emails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and copied to ForHireDriver@kingcounty.gov.
How does the examiner ensure I have a fair hearing?
Examiners are independent of RALS, and do not give any deference to RALS or to any other agency. Examiners may not hear appeals where they have financial interests, have pre-judged the issues, or may appear biased by a relationship to a party. A person with reasonable grounds to believe an examiner might be influenced by a factor outside the record should promptly bring that concern to the examiner’s attention.
What rules and laws typically apply?
It often helps to become familiar with standards governing the decision-making process, especially KCC chapters 20.22 and 6.64 and the examiner’s rules
- King County Codes: https://www.kingcounty.gov/council/legislation/kc_code.aspx
- Examiner's rules: https://kingcounty.gov/independent/hearing-examiner/rules.aspx
Examiners base decisions primarily on those sources, on constitutional principles, and on appellate court decisions.
For past examiner for-hire driver’s license decisions, by year, see https://www.kingcounty.gov/independent/hearing-examiner/case-digest/appeals/for-hire-enforcement.aspx.
You may call the examiner’s office with any questions.
For-Hire Driver's License Appeals Guide
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You can also send us an email to request a hardcopy version of the Hearings Guide.
The hearing examiner bases decisions on adopted King County codes and policies, state statutes, regulations, and appellate court decisions. To participate effectively in a hearing, it often helps to become familiar with the laws and policies that govern the decision-making process.
Department of Executive Services - Licensing Section (For-Hire Transportation)
For contact information for any county agency or personnel, call King County Information at (206) 291-0100 or 1-800-325-6165 or check www.kingcounty.gov.