Do courts still send a Failure to Appear (FTA) to the Department of Licensing (DOL) under the ruling entered by the Thurston County Superior Court in Pierce v. DOL?

YES. In accordance to IRLJ 2.5 and IRLJ 4.2a Failure To Appear (FTA) shall be sent to the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). It is at the discretion of DOL to determine which licenses will be suspended. 

The case, Pierce v. DOL, addressed the constitutionality of Revised Code of Washington 46.20.289. The law requires the Department of Licensing to suspend an individual's driver license in specific circumstances, including when the driver fails to appear for or pay a non-criminal moving violation. On April 30, 2021, Thurston County Superior Court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because no inquiry exists regarding the individual's ability to pay fees and costs associated with the non-criminal moving violations before the suspensions is imposed. 

On June 1, 2021, the Thurston Superior Court issued an order effective on June 8, 2021 preventing DOL from suspending driver licenses for FTAs for non-criminal moving violations and requiring the department to release existing non-criminal moving violation failure-to-appear suspensions. 

At this time, there is no recommendation to change any court processes. 

AOC will be making changes to the FTA screen and processes in the Judicial Information System (JIS) due to the 2020 Washington State Legislative Session bill, ESSB 5226, which takes effect January 1, 2023. Courts will be notified of system changes related to ESSB 5226 closer to the effective date of the bill. 

Form more detailed information pertaining to DOL's implementation of the Pierce v. DOL ruling and imposed deadlines, please see the attached communication from the Law and Justice Liaison of the Washington State Department of Licensing. 

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