Have you recently been arrested on suspicion of DWI in Harris County? Did you refuse or fail chemical testing? If so, your license is at risk of suspension. If you do not request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days, you will lose your license for at least six months, if not longer.
What is an Administrative License Revocation Hearing?
The ALR hearing is a civil proceeding that is entirely separate from any criminal DWI charges you may face. The primary goal of your hearing will be to determine whether or not your license should be suspended. Your license can only be suspended if the State can prove with certain evidence that you either:
- Refused chemical testing in violation of the state implied consent law; or
- Failed chemical testing and had a BAC of .08 percent or greater.
At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to defend yourself, attack the validity of the State's evidence, and possibly even cross-examine the officer who made the arrest.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Defend Me at My ALR Hearing?
Requesting an ALR hearing is one of the most important things you can do if you refuse or fail a breath or blood test in Harris County. Even though the outcome of your ALR hearing will not influence any criminal proceedings, it is still vital to your future because you can obtain valuable impeachment evidence to help you beat your DWI charge. If you have requested an ALR hearing, you may be wondering if it is necessary to hire an attorney to defend you. Here are some pros and cons to consider when making this important decision. The simple answer is yes. Would you wager your hard earned money in a poker game without knowing the rules? Why would you gamble with your freedom and reputation in an ALR in the same manner?
PRO: Attorneys Know Relevant Law and Procedure
Your ALR hearing is a formal legal proceeding. If you want to win, you have to have a firm grasp on the rules, law, and procedure that will govern the hearing. While you can do some research on your own, there is no substitute for professional legal guidance. Hiring an attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are able to utilize every legal tool throughout the process. If you try to navigate your ALR hearing without an attorney, chances are fairly high that you'll miss an important step or fail to identify mistakes made by the State.
PRO: Force the State to Show its Hand
It's true: your ALR hearing is entirely separate from any criminal DWI charges that you may also face. However, requesting an ALR hearing and taking advantage of discovery can be invaluable in your criminal DWI case. In order to suspend your license, the state must present evidence to show that you either refused or failed chemical testing. Many times, this forces the state to disclose important information about the strength of its criminal case against you. Your attorney will know how to force the state to turn over information and utilize it in the best possible way.
PRO: Attorneys Know How to Develop a Winning Defense Strategy
When you request an ALR hearing, your goals are two-fold: first, to keep your driver's license in your hands. Second, obtain and develop favorable testimony that will aid in the defense of your DWI charge. What are the best ways to assert a defense? What are the legal insufficiencies? What elements of the traffic offense need to be exposed? Which strategies will be most successful? How knowledgeable is the officer on field sobriety investigations? How do you know where the state's arguments and evidence are weakest? If you're not an attorney who is familiar with administrative legal proceedings, you may not know how to answer these questions. When you hire an attorney, they will know how to answer these questions and develop a strategy that is best suited for your specific case. The stronger and more detailed your argument, the better your chances of winning your ALR hearing.
PRO: Level the Playing Field
You won't be the only one arguing in front of an administrative law judge at your hearing. The State will also be present to argue in favor of suspension. You can be certain that the State will be represented by a skilled legal professional. The attorney representing the state will be well-versed in applicable law and procedure and know the ins and outs of the process. If you try to defend yourself, you will be outmatched. Hiring DWI board certified attorney who has successfully conducted thousands of ALR hearings will give you an advantage by more than leveling the playing field and increasing your chances for success.
PRO: Force the State to Meet Its Burden of Proof
The best way to win your ALR hearing is by attacking the State's case against you. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that each aspect of the state's case is dissected and analyzed. Your attorney will force the State to provide compelling and verifiable evidence proving (among other things):
- The initial traffic stop was valid
- Probable cause supported the arrest and/or search, and
- Results of chemical testing are valid, reliable, and accurate.
If you do not bring up every possible issue with the state's case, it is more likely to satisfy its burden of proof. Identifying where the State's case may be weakest will make it tough for it to build a strong and persuasive case against you. If the State cannot satisfy its burden of proof, you may win your ALR hearing.
PRO: Your Attorney Can Help You Manage Your Anxiety
Facing the possible suspension of your driver's license can be overwhelming. Anxiety will only make it more difficult to navigate the ALR hearing on your own. You may find that your mind goes blank or that you've forgotten all of the helpful tips that you researched the night before. Hiring an attorney who has several ALR hearings under his or her belt can be incredibly helpful. Your attorney will help to calm your nerves and be right at your side for the duration of the process.
CON: Not All DWI Attorneys Handle ALR Hearings
It's important to understand that not all DWI attorneys are equipped nor prepared to help you navigate your ALR hearing. In fact, many DWI defense attorneys in Harris County will only help you with your criminal DWI case. It's important to seek out and find an attorney who can help you with both the administrative and criminal cases. Why hire an attorney who is only willing to help you with half of your legal issues? Hire an attorney who is dedicated to advocating on your behalf and making sure that all your interests are fully protected.
Doug Murphy is the Best Choice to Defend You at Your ALR Hearing
Is your license at risk of suspension because you refused or failed DWI breath or blood testing in Harris County? If so, you need the help of an experienced Houston DWI attorney. Attorney Doug Murphy holds dual certifications in Criminal Law and DWI Defense that allow him to offer unparalleled legal representation. Unlike many attorneys in Houston, Doug Murphy is prepared to help you navigate all aspects of your DWI, including your ALR hearing. He knows that an ALR hearing is not only important to keep your license in your hands, but also a valuable tool to gain insight into your criminal DWI case. Doug equates the ALR hearing for a DWI lawyer as an MRI is for a doctor providing the best view on how to strategically solve the legal problem. If you were arrested for DWI, don't you want the best DWI attorney to aid you in your defense? Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy is the lawyer for your legal needs.
If you want to fight to keep your license, you need the help of top Houston DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best strategy to win your case, and fight to protect your future. Call us today at (713) 229-8333 to learn more.