When you are arrested for DWI in Harris County, it's important to contact an experienced attorney right away. Why? You may not know that a DWI will result in two separate legal issues: criminal and administrative. Criminal proceedings will unfold on its own. However, you have the obligation to formally request an administrative hearing after your DWI arrest. If you don't act quickly your license will be suspended for up to two years. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. immediately after your arrest to help you keep your license and prepare for your DWI defense.
License Seizure After a DWI Arrest in Houston, TX
Chemical tests are used to help police officers determine if drivers are intoxicated. If police suspect that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will ask you to consent to a breath or blood test. Officers will explain that refusing or failing a test will result in the suspension of your driver's license.
Refusal: You deny the officer's request to provide a sample of breath or blood for chemical analysis.
Failure: You failed a chemical test if (a) your BAC is above the legal limit or (b) there are traces of any illegal substances in your blood.
If you refuse or fail a test, police have the right to seize your license upon arrest. When the license is seized, a temporary driver's permit will be issued in its place.
You have 15 Days to Request an ALR Hearing in Texas
Once your license has been seized, you only have a very short window of time to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing with the Department of Public Safety. An ALR hearing is separate and distinct from any criminal charges that you may face. The ALR is only concerned with the fate of your license.
You only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request a formal ALR hearing. If you do not request a hearing, your license will automatically be suspended for up to two years. The length of your suspension will depend on (a) how many prior DWIs you have and (b) if you refused chemical testing. The suspension will go into effect on the 40th day after your arrest.
Once you submit your request, the Department of Public Safety will respond with a letter. This letter will include the time, date, and location of your ALR hearing. You will be able to drive with your temporary driver's license until your scheduled hearing, which could potentially be months away.
What Happens at an ALR Hearing in Harris County, TX?
An ALR hearing is a way for you to formally contest the suspension of your license. It is also a way for your attorney to begin preparing for your DWI case. The hearing is essentially a short trial in front of an Administrative Law Judge. You and the state will both have opportunities to present arguments and evidence and cross-examine certain witnesses.
Here's what you can expect to happen during your ALR hearing:
Defense Arguments: Your attorney's job is to prove to the judge that your license should not be suspended. This argument can be successful by proving that (a) your rights have been violated or (b) the results of chemical testing are invalid. Doug Murphy will thoroughly investigate your alleged DWI and determine the best strategies for your ALR hearing. These may include:
- Showing the initial traffic stop was unlawful
- Attacking the reliability of breath or blood test results
- Showing the officer lacked probable cause to make a DWI arrest
- Pointing out discrepancies in the officer's testimony, and
- Arguing that field sobriety tests were not administered appropriately.
Any arguments to undermine the state's administrative case against you will be helpful.
State Arguments: The State will dispute any arguments your attorney raises. However, success will be difficult if your attorney has backed his claims with solid pieces of evidence.
Witness Testimony: Prior to your ALR hearing, Doug Murphy will have formally requested all relevant evidence pertaining to your case, including officer notes, video footage, and statements. The police officer who arrested you at the scene may be present at your hearing. If the officer is there, your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine him or her as a witness. The officer will be required to defend and/or explain any discrepancies and issues discovered in the review of the evidence.
Note: Your chances of winning your ALR dispute increase if the arresting officer does not show up in court. The officer tends to be the state's strongest piece of evidence against you. Without the officer, the state will have a more difficult time satisfying its burden of proof.
Deliberation: The Administrative Law Judge will consider all relevant arguments, evidence, and testimony that was presented during the ALR. Upon careful consideration, he or she will enter a final judgment. If the judge decides in your favor, you will be able to keep your license. If the judge decides against you, your license will be suspended.
What Happens in Harris County, TX If I Lose my ALR Hearing?
Your license will automatically be suspended if you lose your ALR hearing. Most suspensions will be for 6 months. More serious cases can result in a suspension of 1 or 2 years.
Benefits of an ALR Even If You Lose
It's important to understand that losing your ALR case isn't the end of the world. In fact, the ALR can provide some great insight into the state's criminal case against you. Since you requested the ALR, your attorney will be able to take a look at some of the state's evidence against you. Even more information can be uncovered during the hearing itself. This information can be invaluable as we prepare your criminal DWI defense.
Request an Occupational License
You may still be able to drive even if your license is suspended. How? The state understands that you may rely on your license for work or to take care of your family. An occupational license can be granted in certain situations. This license will come with some strict limitations. For example, you may only be able to drive during certain hours and only to and from certain locations.
Appeal the Decision
You also have the right to appeal the results of your ALR hearing. It's important to speak with an attorney because there are only limited arguments that can be used in an appeal.
What Happens in Harris County, TX If I Win my ALR Hearing?
If a judge decides that your license should not be suspended you have the right to get your license back. However, there are certain things you must do before you're back out on the road. You'll have to complete a special form to reinstate your license. Yoru attorney will help you complete all necessary information. When you mail the form, be sure to include a check or money order for $125. This is the reinstatement fee that must be paid before the State will return your license back.
Harris County ALR Hearing Attorney
When you are arrested for DWI in Harris County it's important to call an attorney right away. However, you may not know that many DWI defense attorneys aren't prepared to help you with both of your DWI cases. Some DWI attorneys focus solely on criminal matters and won't help you with your ALR hearing. At Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., our Houston DWI attorneys are prepared to help you with all of your DWI-related concerns. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more.