An Introduction to Texas ALR Law:
You need a dedicated and proactive criminal defense attorney if you’ve been arrested for or charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Harris County, Montgomery County, or elsewhere in East Texas. You have very important deadlines approaching that could negatively impact your driver’s license. The criminal case against you is not the only legal proceeding you face. You must also deal with the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program.
The law controlling these ALR proceedings is found in Chapters 524 and 724 of the Texas Transportation Code. You can think of the ALR proceeding as a second, separate case against you. A criminal DWI charge subjects you to potential conviction and jail time. The ALR case is a civil matter where the Department of Public Safety will work to suspend or disqualify your driver license. An ALR suspension stays on your driving record for a lifetime.
It is important to remember that the ALR proceedings are completely unrelated to criminal court proceedings. You can still face an ALR suspension, even if you haven’t been convicted of DWI in the criminal case.
Important deadlines will differ depending upon the facts of your case, but you should immediately begin preparing to address them with an aggressive, proactive strategy. This strategy begins by promptly requesting a hearing on the suspension or disqualification of your driver license. If you do not request such a hearing, your license will automatically be suspended. A responsible defense attorney will request an ALR hearing immediately upon agreeing to represent you.
How will the government try to suspend my driver license?
There are three primary ways you can incur an ALR case at the time of your arrest for DWI or shortly thereafter:
- You refused to take or failed to complete a blood or breath test,
- You provided a blood or breath test that registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more while driving a non-commercial motor vehicle,
- You provided a blood or breath test that registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or more while driving a commercial motor vehicle.
You risk an automatic license suspension 40 days after your arrest. You need an ALR hearing to prevent your license being automatically suspended. This hearing must be requested within 15 days after you receive your suspension notice.
An ALR hearing is separate from your DWI court appearance. The government has the burden of proof in an ALR hearing, but that burden is not as high as in the criminal case. You need a skillful attorney representing you to
How long will my ALR suspension last?
The length of an ALR suspension varies depending on a number of factors. If you refuse to take a breath test, suspensions can be from 180 days to 2 years. Suspensions can be lower if you provide a blood test specimen with suspensions ranging from 90 days to 1 year.
How does refusing a blood or breath specimen impact my ALR proceedings?
If you refuse the taking of a blood or breath specimen at the time of your arrest, Texas law allows a police officer to immediately take action against you. The officer will physically take your driver license, issue you a suspension and/or disqualification notice, and provide you with a temporary driving permit.
You only have fifteen days from the date this notice is served to contest your driver license suspension at a hearing. If a hearing is not requested, the driver license suspension against you goes into effect on the 40th day after you were arrested.
How does consenting to a blood or breath specimen impact my ALR proceedings?
If you consent to a breath test and the result is .08% or more, the officer will physically take your license at that time. The officer will issue you a suspension/disqualification notice and provide you with a temporary driving permit.
If you consent to an officer’s request to a blood test, you will keep your driver license until the results are received by the Department of Public Safety. Results could take 30 to 60 days to be received. If the results are above the legal limit, your driver license will be suspended and a suspension notice will be mailed to you.
How long will the ALR process take?
Your defense attorney should begin working immediately to request an ALR hearing on your behalf. It can take up to four months for the Department of Public Safety to schedule your initial hearing.
However, this initial date is one of the government’s choosing, and may not be in your best interest. A proactive defense attorney can work to reset this initial ALR court date if it is in your best interest to do so.