If you are arrested for DWI in Texas there is a high likelihood that you also have a separate administrative case against your driver’s license (or your ability to obtain a driver’s license, if you do not have one). The hearing is known as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) case.
After a defendant is arrested for DWI, a police officer will almost always request a specimen of breath or blood. Texas drivers are considered to have given “implied consent” to a breath or blood test by virtue of obtaining a Texas Driver’s LIcense. If a defendant refuses to give a breath or blood sample after being lawfully detained and arrested, then that will trigger a case against that person’s driver’s license. The potential suspension for refusing is 180 days. If, on the other hand, a suspect agrees to give a sample, but that sample comes back as .08 (the legal limit) or higher, then that person’s driver’s license will be subject to a 180-day suspension.
You only have 15 days after you are arrested to request a hearing to fight the suspension of your driver’s license. If you do not have an attorney, you can make the request yourself by calling the number provided on the paperwork. You will be asked to provide your driver’s license number and asked whether you want an in-person or telephonic hearing. Most attorneys request in-person ALR hearings, but the type of hearing can later be changed. The most important thing is to not miss the 15-day deadline. At Ceja Law Firm, we make the request for our clients and typically do so by fax so that we have proof that we made the request and that it was received.
What happens at the ALR hearing?
At the hearing, it is the responsibility of the Defendant to subpoena the officers involved in the DWI arrest (unlike in a DWI trial in a criminal case, where the burden is on the State to present evidence and subpoena witnesses). This will usually be one or two officers, depending on the facts of the case. If the officer(s) do not appear at the hearing and have been properly subpoenaed (which includes providing copies of the subpoenas to the prosecutor and the court), then a defendant will win the hearing and be able to get their driver’s license back. If the officer does appear, a smart DWI attorney will use the opportunity to cross-examine on topics that could potentially be helpful in a DWI case.
For example, if the traffic stop in a DWI case is questionable and invalid, then a DWI attorney can use the opportunity to cross-examine the officer to develop facts to show that the stop should be suppressed. Or perhaps a DWI attorney is concerned that an officer might exaggerate his observations at a trial. In that instance, a DWI attorney can ask the officer to list all of the reasons he believed a defendant was intoxicated. The officer’s testimony is under oath and recorded at an ALR hearing, so it can be used in a trial later on.
Do I have to appear at a driver’s license hearing case?
No. While a defendant in a criminal case (like a DWI case) will always have to appear in the criminal case, a defendant’s attorney will almost always appear on behalf of the defendant. Actually, it is a bad idea for a defendant to appear at an ALR hearing, since he theoretically could be called as a witness.
I consented to give blood. Do I have a hearing?
If you are arrested for DWI and agree to give blood, then you may not have a hearing pending until (and unless) the results of your blood test show that you were above the legal limit. This is actually a rare scenario – the vast majority of consents are for a breath test, which provides an immediate result. But if you consented to blood after being arrested for DWI, it is still a good idea to make the request within the 15 days window in case the paperwork incorrectly lists you as refusing. If you indeed do not have a hearing pending, then you will receive a response telling you that. However, you should monitor your mail for a notice of an ALR hearing.
Does the ALR hearing affect the criminal case?
No. As noted above, there are strategic reasons why an ALR case can be beneficial to a DWI case, but there is no direct effect of a won or lost ALR hearing. The ALR hearing takes place in front of a separate court, with a separate prosecutor, and a separate judge. The only time one has any effect on the other is when there is an acquittal in the criminal case. In that instance, the acquittal can reverse an ALR suspension.
What happens if I lose my ALR case?
Your license will be suspended for 180 days or 90 days depending on whether it is alleged that you refused a breath or blood test, or took one and had a result above the legal limit. If you lose your ALR case, you may be eligible for an Occupational Driver’s License. Usually, an Occupational Driver’s License is obtained through the criminal court that is hearing the DWI case. Once the suspension period is up, you will be able to obtain your driver’s license again, but you may have to pay a reinstatement fee.
What happens if I win my ALR case?
If you win your ALR hearing, either because the officer did not appear or the prosecutor could not meet its burden, then you will be able to get your license back. In most cases, driver’s licenses confiscated by law enforcement after a DWI arrest will be destroyed, so it is usually best to get another copy of your driver’s license through DPS.
Contact Our ALR Hearing Attorney For Consultation!
DWI attorney Jose Ceja has handled hundreds of ALR cases and wins over 90% of his cases. If you are arrested for DWI and have an ALR case, contact the Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation.