For many people charged with a first-time DWI, one of the biggest concerns is the possibility of losing your Texas driving privileges. In the Greater Houston area, being able to drive a vehicle is almost always necessary in order to go to work, attend school or maintain a household. Many people assume that a driver’s license suspension is a standard and inevitable part of a DWI arrest, but fortunately, with the help of an experienced DWI lawyer, a suspension is unlikely. But even if your driver’s license is suspended, it is typically possible to get an occupational driver’s license.
For a first-time DWI arrest, there are two ways that a driver’s license can theoretically be suspended. The first (and more common) is as a result of the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) case. Almost every first-time DWI defendant will face an ALR case after a DWI arrest. An ALR case is an administrative hearing against your driver’s license that you will face if you are arrested for DWI and give a breath or blood test over .08, or refuse to give a breath or blood test. An ALR hearing is totally separate from the DWI case and takes place is a separate court with a separate judge and prosecutor.
A breath or blood result over .08 is subject to a 90-day suspension, while a refusal is subject to a 180-day suspension. But it is important to remember that these suspensions are not automatic. If you are arrested for DWI, and are given paperwork relating to a potential ALR suspension, you have 15 days to request a hearing to fight this suspension. Once the request is made, your driver’s license will remain valid (assuming it was valid at the time of your arrest), until your DWI attorney conducts that hearing. At Ceja Law Firm, we win the vast majority of ALR hearings, so it is unlikely that you will face an ALR suspension. More information on ALR hearings can be found here.
The other way you could face a driver’s license suspension after an arrest for a first-time DWI is through the criminal case itself. Of course, the goal of a DWI is to get the case dismissed, or get an acquittal at trial, and if your DWI attorney achieves this, then you would not face a driver’s license suspension.
But if your DWI is not dismissed and you are not acquitted at trial, a conviction for a DWI first can sometimes result in a driver’s license suspension. However, if you are assessed probation for a first-time DWI, and are required to complete an alcohol awareness course (which is a standard condition of probation for a DWI first), then your license may not be suspended, as long as you timely complete the course. It is important to understand that accepting a “time served” plea would result in a suspension since you will not be able to complete the alcohol awareness course. The suspension relating to a conviction for a first-time DWI is 90 days to one year.
If your license is suspended due to an ALR case, or a conviction after a first-time DWI arrest, the good news is that you would be eligible for an occupational driver’s license (ODL). An ODL is a type of restricted license that allows a person to drive a non-commercial vehicle after a driver’s license suspension. While some suspensions are subject to a waiting period before an ODL can be issued, first-time DWI offenders are immediately eligible to apply. In the Greater Houston area, it is typically possible to obtain an occupational driver’s license very quickly.
If you are arrested for first-time DWI the first goal should be to keep a DWI off of your record. The next goal should be to protect your driving privileges. But as should be clear from this article, a driver’s license suspension after a first-time DWI arrest should not cause you to worry excessively as it is unlikely to happen and even if your license was suspended, you would very likely be able to obtain an occupational driver’s license. If you are arrested for DWI anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today to discuss your situation and the ways your case can impact your driving privileges.