In Texas, an arrest for DWI initiates two separate cases.
- One is the criminal charge for driving while intoxicated.
- The other is a civil process overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety and is completely unrelated to the criminal DWI charges.
If you are arrested for DWI in Texas, you will be asked to take a breath or blood test to measure your blood alcohol concentration level. If you refuse to take the test, or if you fail the test by having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, you will be subject to an administrative license suspension from the Texas Department of Public Safety. In such a case, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license and issue a temporary driving permit.
This temporary permit is good for 40 days from the date of the arrest. On the 41st day following the arrest, your driving privileges will become suspended for:
- 90 days, if this is your first offense and you failed the testing;
- 180 days, if this is your first offense and you refused the testing;
- One year, if you failed the testing and your license was previously suspended for failing or refusing chemical testing, or for a DWI conviction in the ten years preceding the current arrest;
- Two years if you refused the testing and your license was previously suspended for failing or refusing chemical testing, or for a DWI conviction in the ten years preceding the current arrest.
During this suspension period, all driving – for any reason whatsoever – is prohibited unless you apply for and receive an occupational license.
The only way to avoid this automatic driver’s license suspension is by requesting an automatic license revocation, or ALR, hearing. Requesting an ALR hearing forces the DPS to prove their case against you.
The ALR hearing request must be made within 15 days of the date of the DWI arrest. A failure to do so will result in a loss of the right to challenge the ALR suspension.
At the hearing, the DPS will have to prove the following:
- The arresting officer had either reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop your vehicle;
- There was probable cause to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated;
- You were arrested, and a request was made to submit to breath or blood testing; and
- You either refused that request or submitted to testing and had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.
The DPS will attempt to use the arresting officer’s written affidavit to prove their case against you. An experienced DWI attorney will issue a subpoena and compel the officer’s attendance at the hearing. If the officer fails to show up, you win the case by default. If the officer does show up, there is a chance to show evidence of innocence that was not contained in the police report.
Another benefit of the ALR hearing is that your attorney will get an opportunity to see the evidence that will be used in court against you on the DWI charge. This will help your attorney to better defend you against the charge of driving while intoxicated.