DWI and Your Texas Driver’s License

Being arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas usually results in two cases to deal with; a criminal case, and a civil (administrative) proceeding targeting the driving privileges of the accused. This is referred to as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) proceeding. An ALR proceeding is triggered upon failure of a breath or blood test, or refusal to submit to the test.

The ALR Process in Texas

Failing a blood or breath test, or refusing to submit, will result in an automatic suspension of driving privileges, effective 40 days after the request was refused or a breath test was failed. Under the Texas ALR Program, the driver facing suspension has 15 days (20 days from notice of blood test failure if you consented to a blood test) to request a hearing to challenge the legality of the pending suspension, beginning from the date of arrest. Requests must be made in writing, and if it is not done within 15 days, the suspension will automatically begin on day forty. Conversely, there is no automatic suspension if a hearing is requested. John M. Cook requests a hearing for all of his clients that have timely hired him within the 15 day (20 days for consensual blood test failures).

Authority to Suspend Licenses

The Texas Implied Consent Statute provides the legal basis for initiating administrative suspension proceedings against Texas drivers charged with DWI, as this law states that everyone who operates a motor vehicle on Texas roadways agrees to provide a breath or blood sample in response to a proper police request. This statute also applies to drivers of boats or other watercraft in Texas.

The Police May Misinform Drivers of Their Rights

Although drivers have the right to challenge an ALR suspension in all cases, the police will often tell those they are arresting and requesting a breath or blood test from that if they do not agree to take the test, then their driver’s license will be automatically revoked (leaving out the fact you have the right to challenge the suspension). Some police officers are unaware of what the law is, but some are aware, and will say this anyways to exert influence over a citizen who is otherwise unwilling to submit to the test. John M. Cook frequently wins ALR hearings thus resulting in no suspension at all.

What Happens Upon Arrest

The police are required by law to take possession of any Texas license of a person arrested for DWI if they refuse a breath or blood test or if they fail a breath test (.08 or higher), and issue a temporary driving permit that expires 41 days after it was issued. Once a hearing is requested, the automatic period is tolled (it stops running). If you win the ALR hearing no suspension is imposed, then the Texas license must be returned to the driver whom it was taken from.

That is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

After the ALR suspension is over, a driver must pay $125.00 to the Texas Department of Public Safety to have his or her license reinstated, and oftentimes there are several thousand dollars and fees that must be paid for the next three years. One’s license can be suspended for up to two years, even as the result of a first offense. There are different “hard suspension” periods depending on the number of prior DWI charges as well, during which even an occupational license cannot be sought. Most Texans will be able to obtain an occupational driver’s license at some point during the suspension period, however, which allows for limited driving privileges to and from work.

The Advantages of Requesting an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing

In addition to keeping your driver's license if Mr. Cook wins the hearing, he gains valuable discovery and insight on how to best defend your DWI case. Mr. Cook frequently subpoenas the arresting officer(s) to the ALR hearing where they are subjected to cross examination under oath, which is recorded. Mr. Cook frequently uses the transcript from that hearing to later impeach the officer(s) at your DWI trial.

Let John M. Cook Protect Your Texas Driving Privileges

If you or a loved one is facing DWI charges and would like to challenge the automatic suspension, you should speak with an experienced DWI defense attorney today. John M. Cook knows DWI in Texas inside and out, not only from his position as a defense attorney, but from his former vantage point as an assistant district attorney. Mr. Cook and his staff will work tirelessly on your behalf and do everything possible to prevent interruption of your driving privileges. If you are in the Dallas or Northern Texas area and need an attorney, call 214-521-6679 today, or email Mr. Cook for a free initial consultation.