When you are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, the consequences can hit you faster than you may realize. And those consequences can extend beyond the criminal proceedings. When you are charged with a DWI, you will get your day in court to defend yourself before you are ever sentenced to jail. However, your driving privileges can suffer beginning at the time of your arrest.
The arresting officer will take your driver's license from you and replace it with a temporary license immediately after your arrest. The process of fighting your suspension can be confusing, and making the wrong decision or dragging your feet can haunt you. That's why the best practice is to hire an experienced DWI defense attorney immediately after you are released. You have a short window to fight for your ability to drive, and once that closes -- you are out of luck.
DWI Board Certified attorney Doug Murphy has handled hundreds of these cases and is ready to help you fight the suspension of your driving privileges. You only have 15 days from the date you are given the temporary license to request an ALR hearing on your suspension. A failure to do so within 15 days will cause the administrative suspension to take effect, so time is of the essence.
Texas Statutory Warning & Temporary Driving Permit
At the time of your arrest, the physical copy of your driver's license will be seized by law enforcement. At the same time, you will be issued two different documents: a Statutory Warning and a Temporary Driving Permit.
What is a Texas Statutory Warning?
The Statutory Warning, also known as form DIC-24, is a written list of notices your arresting officer is required to give you. This is done in conjunction with the officer requesting either a blood or breath sample. Form DIC-24 provides notice that:
- you are under arrest for suspicion of DWI, and that the arresting officer is requesting a sample of your breath or blood to test for the presence of alcohol or other drugs;
- if you refuse to give a sample, your license will be suspended for 180 days and your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court;
- if you refuse to give a sample, the officer may request a warrant to take one from you;
- if you are 21 years or older and your sample reflects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, your license will be suspended for at least 90 days;
- if you are younger than 21 years of age and have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system below .08 your license will be suspended for 60 days;
- if you are a commercial vehicle driver, you may lose the ability to operate a commercial vehicle if you refuse or if your BAC is .08 or higher; and
- you may request a hearing on a license suspension if you formally request one within 15 days of receiving these notices.
The bottom of the form has checkboxes in which the officer can indicate whether you agreed to a voluntary sample or not. This form is the only notice you will receive that you have only 15 days to contest your license suspension.
What is a Texas Temporary Driving Permit?
The Temporary Driving Permit, also known as form DIC-25, replaces your physical driver's license. The permit is good for 40 days from the date you receive it. The purpose of the permit is to give you an opportunity to get your affairs in order before your ability to drive is taken from you. The temporary license is filled out by your arresting officer and contains some identifying information about you and your arrest. It also indicates whether or not you are over the age of 21 and refused or not to give a sample.
The license spells out your ability to drive as follows:
If your Texas driver license was confiscated, this document will serve as your temporary driving permit. It is subject to the same restrictions and endorsements as your Texas driver license. If you hold a commercial driver license, this permit authorizes the operation of commercial motor vehicles. This permit does not provide you with any driving privileges if you do not have a Texas driver license or if your Texas driver license is expired, suspended, revoked, cancelled, or disqualified. This permit is valid for 40 days from the date of service shown below. If you request a hearing, this permit will remain in effect until the administrative law judge makes a final decision in your case.
The ALR Process
The time to request an administrative license revocation, or ALR, hearing starts running as soon as you are issued your temporary driving permit. You can request the ALR hearing by written letter, fax, or any other method allowed by the State of Texas. Ensuring that your hearing request is filed in time is a critical step and one that an experienced Texas DWI attorney can handle for you. Once your request is filed, the state will set a date for your hearing.
The ALR Hearing
Your ALR hearing will be heard in front of an administrative law judge. This hearing is your opportunity to formally contest the suspension of your license. The ALR process is much faster than the criminal justice system, so this hearing will occur before your DWI goes to trial.
The hearing is effectively a miniature trial; much of the evidence will be the same as the evidence to be admitted in the criminal proceedings. Both the State of Texas and your defense attorney will have a chance to make arguments, call witnesses, and try to convince the administrative law judge.
Both your attorney and the state will have the chance to make an opening statement. The state's attorney will highlight any evidence they intend to use against you. Your attorney will raise any defenses you may have, including:
- 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.
Both sides are allowed to call witnesses. This includes any officers involved in your arrest or the collection of chemical test samples. Before the hearing, your attorney will be able to review the evidence against you and use it to question the witnesses, including the arresting officers.
After the end of witness testimony, the administrative law judge will consider the testimony, evidence, and arguments of both sides. The administrative law judge will then make a final judgment for or against you. If the judge rules in your favor, you will be able to continue driving as if nothing happened. If the judge rules against you, the suspension of your driving privileges will go into effect.
Regardless of the outcome of the ALR hearing, it is important to remember that ALR hearings can be beneficial even if you aren't successful in your challenge.
Why Contesting Your Administrative License Suspension is Important
You should always request an ALR hearing after being charged with DWI in Texas. It is the only avenue you have for avoiding the loss of your driving privileges. But an ALR hearing can be beneficial even in cases where you ultimately do not prevail. That is because at the ALR hearing, the state is required to lay out their entire case against you. The preview of the state's evidence against you is invaluable to your defense attorney. It also limits the ability of the prosecutor to introduce surprise evidence against you at the last minute.
What's more, it locks the officers and other witnesses into their story early on into a sworn transcript that can later be used to impeach their testimony. Transcripts are kept of ALR hearings, and the answers the witnesses give to your attorney's questions are effectively etched in stone. If the witnesses against you change their story later, your attorney will be able to cross-examine the witness regarding the discrepancy in their testimony now versus their testimony at the ALR hearing.
Altogether, an ALR hearing can be very beneficial for the development of the defense in your DWI case.
Hiring an Experienced Texas ALR Hearing Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DWI in Texas, it is imperative that you hire an experienced defense attorney immediately. Your 15-day window for requesting an ALR hearing can sneak up on you, and the consequences of not timely filing a hearing request are many. The best bet to ensure you properly request a formal hearing on your suspension is by hiring an attorney experienced in the process.
Doug Murphy is an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney that is well-versed in the ALR hearing process. He understands the value of fighting your suspension and getting an early preview of the state's case. Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas attorneys Board Certified as an expert in both DWI defense law and criminal defense law. If you want a lawyer with these credentials standing by your side, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule your free consultation.