The most common question I get when talking to someone after an arrest for Driving While Intoxicated is “Will my driver’s license be suspended?” Unfortunately, the answer just depends. There are a variety of factors that are considered first.
The non-criminal or “civil” driver’s license suspension prosecuted by Texas DPS following an arrest for DWI is called an Administrative License Revocation (ALR).
Here are details on how the process works.
Will You Lose Your License Because of a DWI Arrest?
You can lose your license within the process, but it depends on a variety of factors that will be specific to your case.
There are two ways you can have your license suspended from a DWI. While a conviction for DWI can trigger a license suspension, much more commonly a driver’s license is suspended from the Administrative License Revocation or “ALR” process.
What is an ALR Suspension?
Driving in the state of Texas makes you party to a contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The contract states that if a police officer has reasonable suspicion to detain you for any traffic offense and then later probable cause to arrest you for Driving While Intoxicated, then you will give him a sample of your breath or blood.
It is the officer’s choice as to whether he asks for your breath or your blood. Strangely, you never signed this contract. This is what is known as implied consent. The courts have ruled that you have accepted the terms of this agreement if you received a Texas Driver’s License, or if you are from out of state by driving on Texas roads.
If you refuse to provide breath or blood, this triggers an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. If you provide a sample of breath or blood and its alcohol concentration is over the legal limit, then that also triggers an automatic suspension of your license.
How is an ALR Suspension Unlike Other Suspensions?
Unlike other suspensions ALR suspensions are enhanceable. If it is your second suspension within ten years the length of the suspension is longer. Second ALR suspensions can last up to two years. Additionally, you must pay a reinstatement fee to get your license back after the suspension period is over. Typically this fee is $125.00.
If you have an ALR suspension, contact The Law Office of Eric Harron to book a free consultation.
Can I Still Drive?
If an officer took your license, you can probably still drive in the short term.
If you were arrested for DWI and refused to give breath of blood, or provided breath and the result was over .08 the officer should have seized your license.
At the time he took it, he also should have given you a 40-day temporary driving permit. This is a yellow piece of paper that should be with your other arrest and bond paperwork. This allows you to continue driving for 40 days after your arrest.
Can I fight a DWI License Suspension?
If you or your lawyer contest your ALR suspension quickly you can continue to drive legally until there is a hearing on the matter.
To contest the ALR Suspension, the request for a hearing must be made in writing within 15 days from the date of the arrest. If the situation was a consensual blood draw and DPS sent you a letter stating your license will be suspended, then you typically have 20 days from the date of the notice to respond.
If you have received a suspension notice, a prompt response is required. Contact The Law Office of Eric Harron now and set up a free legal consultation.
Can I get an Occupational License?
Yes, in almost every circumstance of an ALR suspension, you can get an occupational license.
If you have an ignition interlock, the law allows your lawyer to get you a completely unrestricted occupational license. This means you can drive 24 hours a day anywhere in the state of Texas. It is almost like not having a suspension at all.
If you do not have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, then the occupational license is limited to specific counties and up to 12 hours per day.
The officer did not seize my license after a blood test where I consented. Is my license not being suspended?
Not necessarily. Unfortunately, this process is not like giving blood at the hospital where results are given rapidly. After blood is drawn, the blood will be sent for testing to Texas DPS or to a local police department crime lab. The turn-around time for results is usually several months. If the blood shows an alcohol concentration greater than .08, Texas DPS will send you a letter stating your driver’s license will be suspended.
If you have given blood voluntarily, then it is important to make sure the address on your driver’s license is up to date and that you check your mail frequently to watch for this notice.
How does the hearing work?
First off, this is a civil hearing. Since there is no chance you can be sent to jail from the results of the hearing, the burden on DPS is much lower.
These hearings are governed by the preponderance of the evidence legal standard. This means that Texas DPS has to prove more likely than not:
- There was a valid reason to detain you
- There was reasonable suspicion to perform a DWI investigation
- There was probable cause to arrest you
- That you refused to give a breath or blood sample or had a BAC over the limit
This is very different from the criminal case against you. In your criminal case the state has to prove each of the elements of the case beyond any reasonable doubt. This is a much higher burden on the state than the ALR hearing.
The hearings also follow a different set of evidentiary rules than a criminal court proceeding since they are governed by the Texas Administrative Code.
Under this set of rules, more items are easily admissible into evidence against you. For example, DPS can introduce police reports against you.
It is your attorney’s responsibility to subpoena the arresting officer to the hearing if you want these reports authenticated at the time of the hearing. If properly and timely subpoenaed, officers must show up to these hearings prior to the introduction of their reports. If they do not show up the ALR may be dismissed by the Administrative Law Judge handling the matter.
For expert and aggressive legal representation, contact the Law Office of Eric Harron and speak with him about your case.
How Long Will My License Be Suspended?
If this is your first suspension, or you have not had an ALR suspension within the last ten years, then the period of suspension will be 180 days for a refusal to give a breath or blood sample and 90 days for providing a sample over .08.
If it is your second suspension in the last ten years, then the length is two years for refusing to provide a sample or one year for providing a sample over .08.
Talk to a suspended license lawyer in Texas who can help.
Will my license be suspended if I had drugs but not alcohol in my blood?
The ALR process is only concerned with alcohol. If you voluntarily gave breath or blood and there was no alcohol detected, then DPS cannot suspend your license.
However, drugs detected in your blood may be used against you in a criminal charge for DWI.
They took my blood with a warrant. Does this affect my license?
Unfortunately, this is treated as a refusal to provide a breath or blood sample. The scope of the ALR process ends as soon as you refuse.
The fact that the officer gets a warrant for blood after you are arrested is outside the scope of your agreement with DPS. Even if a blood sample comes back under .08, DPS will try to suspend your license through the ALR process if the officer had to get a warrant to get your blood.
I took a breath test at the time but refused a later one. Does this mean I consented to a breath test?
Sadly, for the purposes of the ALR suspension, it does not. The test on the side of the road, sometimes known as a preliminary breath test, does not count as a consensual breath test.
That test is not considered reliable enough to be introduced in a court of law. It is just a tool that some police agencies use to aid in making a decision to arrest you. After you are arrested the officer will read you a long statutory warning.
At the end of that reading, he will ask for a sample of your breath or blood. It is at that moment when you are given the opportunity to consent or refuse to give a breath or blood test that matters for your ALR suspension. This is typically done when you are sitting in the back of the police car in handcuffs.
My DWI was dismissed. Do I get my license back?
Unfortunately, the ALR process and the criminal charge are completely separate.
They are prosecuted by different agencies and heard in different courts. You can win one and lose the other. The only interplay between the two cases is if you take your DWI criminal case to trial, and a jury finds you not guilty, then DPS must remove the suspension from your driver’s record.
As a practical matter though, the suspension period has typically already passed by the time your criminal case gets to trial.
Getting a Lawyer for a DWI License Suspension in Texas
If you have been arrested for DWI or another alcohol offense it is important to contact an attorney right away. There are important deadlines to consider and contacting representation quickly ensures your ALR suspension is not missed.
See results from previous DWI case results to learn how effective aggressive representation can help you and don’t wait to schedule a free consultation.
If you’re facing a license suspension in Texas or if you have been arrested for DWI, please call the Law Office of Eric Harron at 512-963-8855 so that we can answer any specific questions you may have and get you the aggressive representation you need.