What you should know about ALR hearings, driver’s license suspension, representation and legal rights in Texas after a DWI stop

In Texas, drivers charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) must also attend an administrative hearing to determine if their driver’s license will be suspended. Texas’s Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program takes place independently of criminal charges and proceedings. Anyone who refuses to take or fails a breath or blood alcohol test automatically receives notice of a pending driver’s license suspension. An ALR hearing gives the accused the ability to challenge the suspension.

Often, those who have been arrested for DWI are so focused on their criminal charges that they fail to prepare for an ALR hearing — or even request one in the first place.

This can result in having your driver’s license automatically suspended for anywhere from 90 to 180 days. Once your driver’s license has been suspended, this could result in other negative consequences such as increased insurance rates or losing your job.

You may be ineligible to apply for a commercial driver’s license for a period of time after having a regular driver’s license revoked. The loss of your driver’s license might also create economic hardship if it interferes with commuting to and from work.

If you or a loved one was recently arrested in Houston for drunk driving, act now to prevent a driver’s license suspension and to secure representation for your ALR hearing. Talk to experienced attorney Matthew Sharp about the best defense strategy for you.

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How to request an ALR hearing in Texas

Individuals can request an ALR hearing online through the Texas Department of Public Safety or through their defense attorney. Since the state has a history of misplacing or misprocessing requests, it’s recommended you file a hearing request through your defense attorney.

A driver must file an ALR hearing request within 15 days from the date the suspension notice is served in order to not have their license automatically suspended.

Driver’s license suspension and ALR hearing process for a DWI

If a police officer has reason to believe you are impaired while driving, they will pull you over and administer field sobriety tests. If you fail these tests, your driver’s license will be taken and you will be arrested for DWI.

If you refuse to take or fail a field sobriety test, the law enforcement officer will take your license and provide you with a temporary driving permit. You will also receive notice of a pending driver’s license suspension.

Form DIC-25 (Notice of Suspension Temporary Driving Permit) serves as a person’s driver’s license until after their ALR hearing. It serves as a valid license until a suspension begins or an administrative law judge (ALJ) overturns it.

In order to not have your license suspended, you must file an ALR hearing request within 15 days. If you fail to request a hearing, the suspension goes into effect 40 days after you were served notice (which is usually 40 days after the arrest date). You will also have to pay a $125 reinstatement fee to get your driver’s license back, in addition to paying any other outstanding fees or fines owed.

If you decide to contest the suspension of your driver’s license by filing an ALR request, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will process your request and respond with a letter that provides the date, time and location of your hearing. The state may need up to 120 days after the request filing to schedule your ALR hearing. During this time, you should keep copies of all notices and requests to protect yourself from miscommunication during the request and hearing process.

Before the hearing, DPS and the accused driver may both request information, including DWI reports and witness information. Information obtained prior to the ALR hearing may help a DWI defendant prepare for their criminal case.

If the judge upholds the suspension, then the accused can take the process one step further and file an appeal. The state must receive an appeal request within 30 days of the new suspension date. If the state grants an appeal, the department will lift the suspension until the appellate court makes a final decision.

During the hearing, an administrative law judge listens to both sides and issues a decision to uphold or overturn the suspension.

Should the administrative law judge uphold the suspension, he or she may decide to impose other sanctions that must be fulfilled before your license can be reinstated, such as:

  • Attending drug and alcohol treatment
  • Submitting to drug testing
  • Fines

The role of DWI defense attorneys in ALR hearings

For any legal representation, timing often plays a crucial role in the outcome of a case. When involved at the ALR hearing stage of a DWI case, your defense attorney can:

  • Provide peace of mind regarding hearing deadlines and document submissions
  • Obtain current information about the prosecution’s criminal case
  • Handle the hearing process without the presence of the accused
  • Improve the likelihood that a judge will overturn a suspension

The ALR hearing is separate from a criminal DWI case, but the two cases feature various crossovers.

For starters, many of the issues discussed in your ALR hearing — including the reason for a traffic stop, the presence of probable cause and the detention process — will arise again in your criminal case.

Also, similar to a criminal case, defendants have the right to legal representation during ALR hearings. The state will not, however, appoint an attorney (public defender) for the accused. The outcome of your ALR hearing will not affect the outcome of any pending criminal charges, but it could reveal helpful information about the prosecution’s case. The ALR hearing strictly determines if and when a license suspension goes into effect after a DWI arrest.

However, if a defendant receives an acquittal in a case, the state will cancel an existing ALR suspension. The Texas Department of Public Safety must receive a copy of the case dismissal or verdict before it will reinstate a driver’s license.

Having a Houston criminal defense attorney represent you at an ALR hearing or when making a hearing request can benefit you when it’s time to go to court on DWI charges. This is because some of the same evidence used at an ALR hearing may be presented again at your criminal trial. The more an attorney knows about the prosecution’s tactics, the better prepared they will be to defend you.

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Hire an experienced driver license suspension lawyer

If you have recently been arrested for DWI and are facing an ALR hearing, it’s important to hire a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney to help get your criminal charges dismissed and represent you at proceedings.

At The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp, we’ll take immediate steps when you meet with us to discuss your case, including putting the state of Texas on notice that they must prove the following elements:

  • That probable cause existed for a traffic stop and/or arrest
  • That you (the defendant) were driving in a public place while intoxicated
  • That you were informed of the consequences involved in refusing a breathalyzer test or failing one
  • That you refused blood alcohol testing or registered .08 or higher in violation of Texas law

Houston defense attorney Matthew Sharp understands how intimidating an ALR hearing and DWI arrest can be, especially if it’s your first offense. He will work hard to pursue every avenue of defense available. Schedule your free consultation now to get the representation you need.

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