Even though Texas is an implied consent state, officials cannot automatically suspend drivers' licenses following DWI arrests. To do so, there must be an Administrative License Suspension hearing to determine if such suspension is appropriate.
At the ALR hearing, a paid DPS employee usually serves as judge, jury, and executioner. So, many people feel there is no point in contesting the suspension. Furthermore, the law only gives defendants a few days to request hearings. Many other people miss the deadline.
However, assertive representation at the ALR hearing gives a Weatherford criminal defense lawyer a leg-up in the criminal defense proceeding. Furthermore, there is a good chance that an attorney can at least reduce the license suspension period.
What's at Stake
State law gives the DPS broad authority to suspend drivers' licenses for many reasons. Some of them, such as the failure to pay child support, have nothing to do with driving safety. But DWI suspensions are different. Since these events are safety-related, the maximum suspension periods are:
90 days for a first breath or blood test failure,
180 days for a first refusal,
One year for a subsequent failure, and
Two years for a subsequent refusal.
There is a ten-year lookback period. So, if a person refused to provide a chemical sample in 2008 and again in 2019, both these events are first refusals.
An occupational drivers' license may be available during any suspension period. ODLs allow people to drive to and from work, to and from school, and in the performance of household tasks, such as dropping off or picking up children from school.
At the ALR hearing, the state must prove that officers had probable cause to request a chemical sample. That's a relatively low standard of proof, but it is sometimes difficult to establish. Many times, especially in DWI collision cases, officers have little evidence of intoxication before they ask drivers to provide samples. Weak evidence like bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol often does not stand up in court or at the ALR hearing.
In borderline cases, the administrative law judge may at least reduce the suspension period or probate part of it.
Even if the ALJ imposes the maximum, your attorney had a chance to cross-examine the police officer under oath. Opportunities like this, if they are available at all, usually cost hundreds of dollars. Prior sworn testimony is admissible in court. Generally for impeachment purposes.
The ALR hearing is an important part of a successful DWI defense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.