After a DWI arrest, you can expect to face two separate proceedings: a criminal proceeding as well as an administrative proceeding regarding your driver's license. If you want to contest the suspension of your driver's license you need to act quickly to submit a request for a hearing. The administrative hearing regarding your license is separate from the criminal case, so your license may be suspended prior to a finding of guilt on the criminal case if you fail to submit a request for a hearing.
If police suspect that you were driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated, they may ask you to submit to a test for alcohol or drugs. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine or if you are found to test positive for an alcohol level of 0.08 or above, police may seize your license. When asking you to submit to chemical testing, law enforcement officers will advise you about the consequences of refusing to submit to the test, including the loss of your driving privileges.
You may also be asked to submit to a test of your blood, breath, or urine if you are caught operating a watercraft and are suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can lose your driving privileges for driving motor vehicles if you are charged with boating while intoxicated if you do not contest the suspension by requesting a hearing.
You only have 15 days to submit the request for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. If you do not act to request a hearing, your license will be automatically suspended beginning 40 days after the arrest for up to two years. The length of time of the suspension will depend on several factors including what offense you are charged with and whether or not you have prior convictions for driving while intoxicated.
After you submit a request for an ALR hearing, you will be notified by mail of the date and time of the hearing. Submitting the request will postpone the suspension of your driver's license until the date of the hearing. The ALR hearing will be held in front of an administrative law judge.
Challenging Suspension of Your License at an ALR Hearing
The officers who performed the investigation prior to your arrest may be subpoenaed and asked to testify at the hearing. Sometimes more than one officer is involved in the investigation if one officer performed the initial traffic stop and another administered standard field sobriety tests and requested you to submit to chemical testing. It may be possible to challenge the reason the officer pulled you over if they lacked reasonable suspicion for making a traffic stop or lacked probable cause to arrest you.
You may also be able to challenge evidence that you were operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle or watercraft. In a typical DWI case, police officers stop a driver for a traffic violation, but many arrests occur after police find a person sleeping behind the wheel of their vehicle.
Circumstantial evidence may be used to support a finding of probable cause for a DWI arrest, such as if the keys were in the ignition when police arrived. If there are facts that suggest you were not in control of the vehicle, for example, if it was inoperable or the keys were inaccessible or if you were not observed driving by law enforcement or other witnesses, these are all facts that can be brought up to challenge suspension of your license at an ALR hearing.
Even if you are unable to challenge the suspension of your license, you may be granted permission to drive with an occupational license which allows you to legally drive to school and work and to perform essential household duties. The occupational license may restrict you to driving only during certain times or along certain routes.
A restricted license may also be issued which will allow you to drive with an interlock device installed on your car. An interlock device requires a sample of your breath for alcohol testing, and you will not be able to start your vehicle if the device detects that you are above the legal limit for driving.
Benefits of Attorney Representation at an ALR Hearing
ALR hearings can be difficult to win because the burden of proof for demonstrating reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop and probable cause for an arrest is low. However, even if you do not succeed in winning the hearing, an ALR hearing can be a good opportunity to ask the officers who investigated your case questions to get a preview of what the state may present during the criminal case.
If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney can cross-examine the officers on your behalf. While you can represent yourself at an ALR hearing, it is difficult to know which questions are important to ask without prior experience handling DWI cases. If you have an attorney at an ALR hearing, you stand a much greater chance of having a successful outcome, and your attorney can gain useful information to later assist you in defending the criminal charge.
Contact an Experienced DWI Attorney in Austin, Texas
If you have been arrested for a DWI in Texas, it is important to act right away to make sure that your rights are protected. Contact attorney Jason S. English online or call (515) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation.