What You Need to Know About DWI ALR Hearings
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will attempt to suspend the driver’s license of anyone arrested for DUI who either refused or failed a DUI breath test (or blood test). The process is known as “Administrative License Revocation” (ALR). The bottom line is as follows: You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to have an ALR Hearing requested on your behalf by an attorney. We can request an ALR hearing on the same day you phone our office.
Your Texas driver’s license will not be suspended once we request the hearing, and we will argue that DPS does not have the authority to restrict your driving rights. If you were arrested for a Texas DWI or DUI within the last 15 days and either:
- failed the DUI breath test or blood test with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08 or more, or
- refused to take the breath test and refused to take a blood test, you should contact an attorney to request an ALR hearing on your behalf (if offered).
It is tough to win ALR hearings. The odds are set against you (approximately 90% of people lose this hearing), and the deck is stacked against you. Even if you lose the ALR hearing, the process of obtaining the hearing can be extremely beneficial to your entire DUI defense. By requesting an ALR hearing, you and your counsel acquire important information about your case, including a “preview” of the evidence the district attorney will use against you during your DUI trial.
Consider the ALR hearing to be a mini-DUI trial in which you have nothing to lose and everything to gain (by perhaps keeping your license and understanding what evidence is against you) (i.e. the police report).
The Issues Determined at the ALR Hearing for Texas DUI Charges. If you are an adult who failed the Texas breath test or blood test, the ALR judge must determine whether:
- you had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater in relation to your DUI arrest; and
- “reasonable suspicion” to stop you or “probable cause” to arrest you existed.
- If you refused a breath test or refused a blood test, the ALR judge will be considering whether:
- the officer had a good reason to pull you over (the “reasonable suspicion” / “probable cause” analysis);
- probable cause existed for the officer to make a DUI/DWI arrest (the belief that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated);
- the police officer made a proper request for a sample of your blood or breath for analysis; and
- you refused to take the DUI/DWI breath test or DUI/DWI blood test.
How to Request a Texas ALR Hearing
Applying for an Administrative License Revocation (“ALR”) hearing is a key step in arguing against a DWI charge in Texas. Unfortunately, many people miss out on an ALR because they miss the application deadline (15 days from the date of arrest) or supply DPS with incorrect information.
If DPS grants your petition, they will send you the hearing information by mail. It usually takes 2-3 weeks, although it can take much longer at times. It also appears to be spam. So, if you haven’t received the hearing notice by mail after a few weeks, contact DPS. If you were refused and didn’t find out until after the deadline, you’ll likely need a criminal defense lawyer to address the problem. Keep an eye out for the notice and contact DPS if you don’t receive it within a few weeks of requesting it.
Offenders Under 21 Years of Age
If a breath test or blood test was not requested, or if the driver arrested for DUI provided a breath sample or blood sample with any detectable amount of alcohol, the ALR judge must determine whether:
- the person is a minor; and whether he or she had any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system while operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
- whether there was reasonable suspicion to stop the minor now charged with a Texas DUI, or probable cause to arrest the minor for DUI.
Challenging an Automatic License Suspension
In Texas, the average DWI conviction results in a two-year license suspension. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest and the number of prior convictions on a person’s record, a suspension could be extended to three years or revoked permanently.
The police should have given you a yellow or white piece of paper labeled “NOTICE OF SUSPENSION / TEMPORARY DRIVING PERMIT” before you were released from custody (if you received this piece of paper, the police concluded that you either failed or refused to take the DUI breath test or blood test). For the time being, this piece of paper also serves as your driver’s license. You are only allowed to drive with it for 15 days (often 40) after the date of your arrest unless you request an ALR hearing.
Within 15 days of the suspension, an automatic license suspension can be appealed. Other types of license suspension are subject to a 20-day appeal period. This will set up an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing, during which the suspected offender can argue in front of a judge why their license should not be suspended. Although they are not contesting their guilt or innocence, they can still bring a DWI attorney to the hearing for legal advice.