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ALR Process and License Suspensions

Facing a DWI in Texas can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to the possibility of having your driver’s license suspended.  A DWI charge can lead to serious consequences, not only affecting your ability to drive, but also impacting your life.

This is where Nick Westbrook, a highly skilled Houston DWI defense attorney, comes in.  With over 20 years of experience in Southeast Texas, Mr. Westbrook and his dedicated team at the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, provide exceptional legal representation for people facing all types of DWI charges in Texas.

In Texas, a DWI charge can lead to a license suspension in two ways: through the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program or when convicted.

The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Process

The Texas Department of Public Safety has the right to suspend your driver’s license through the ALR process.  Suspensions may occur if you’re arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) and you:

  1. Refuse to take or fail to complete a breath or blood test;
  2. Provide a breath or blood test with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher while driving a non-commercial motor vehicle;
  3. Provide a breath or blood test with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or more while driving a commercial motor vehicle.

The good news — you can challenge the mandatory license suspension by requesting a special, ALR hearing.  The ALR hearing is an administrative proceeding, completely separate from your criminal case.  This process only addresses your driver’s license and driving privileges, and determines whether your license suspension is justified based on the evidence and facts of your case.

  • For cases involving a breath test, you must request a hearing within 15 days from the date of your Notice of Suspension (Form DIC-25).  This typically occurs during at the time of your arrest (shortly after the breath test results are obtained by the police).
  • If your case involves a blood test, the Notice of Suspension will be delayed until DPS receives your BAC results.  At that point, DPS will mail the Notice, and you must request a hearing within 20 days.  You should always make sure DPS has your correct home address to ensure proper service of the Notice.

If you act quickly and request a timely hearing, your license will remain active until there is a final decision from the hearing.  It could takes several weeks before a hearing is scheduled, so you get to keep your license during this waiting period.

Our DWI representation always includes assistance with the ALR process, provided we are hired with enough time to meet the statutory deadlines.  If you don’t request a timely hearing, your license will be suspended within 40 days of the Notice of Suspension.  Unfortunately, if you wait to long to hire an attorney, you may lose your legal right to fight the license suspension.

What Happens During an ALR Hearing?

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) oversees the ALR hearing and reviews the evidence presented by the attorneys for the Texas Department of Public Safety.  The only issues addressed at the ALR hearing are whether:

  •  the police had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the initial stop;
  • the police had probable cause to believe the person was driving a motor vehicle or operating a watercraft in public while intoxicated;
  • the person was placed under arrested and was asked to give a breath or blood specimen; and
  • the person refuse to give a breath or blood specimen.

After a hearing, the Judge  ultimately decides if the suspension is justified, based on these limited issues.  While the ALR hearing does not affect your criminal case, it’s an excellent way to obtain valuable information for your defense, including testimony from the police officers involved with your case, the offense report, breath or blood results, and videos at the scene of the initial stop and eventual arrest.  In many cases, our team discovers several issues during the ALR hearing, which can help resolve the criminal case, sometimes through a complete dismissal.

Requesting an ALR hearing is more than just saving your license.  It helps your DWI defense by uncovering the prosecution’s evidence at the early stages of your case.  This can expose significant flaws and problems in their case and help dismiss the case or reduce the charges.

The key is to hire an experienced DWI attorney to represent you in both the criminal case and the ALR process.  The Westbrook Law Firm can help with both matters, ensuring you can keep your license and have the best defense possible.

Suspension Periods for DWI Offenses

The length of your license suspension depends on several factors, including whether you consented or refused a breath or blood specimen, and whether you’re a first-time or repeat offender:

  • Breath/Blood Test Refusal: 180 days; 2 years if you had a previous “alcohol-related contact” within prior 10 years
  • First-time offenders (over 21 years of age): 90 days to 1 year
  • First-time offenders (under 21 years of age): 1 year (if not probated)
  • Second-time or greater offenders: 180 days to 2 years; 1-2 years if offense committed within 5 years of previous offense
  • DWI with Child Passenger (over 21 years of age): 90 days to 1 year
  • DWI with Child Passenger (under 21 years of age):  1 year (if not probated)

These suspension periods apply to both the ALR process and DWI convictions.

Occupational Licenses: Driving for Essential Purposes

If your license is suspended due to a DWI charge or conviction, you may be eligible for an Occupational License.  To obtain an occupational license, you must file a Petition with the court and demonstrate your essential need to drive, such as for work, school, or medical appointments.

There are certain restrictions associated with Occupational Licenses, such as:

  • You may only drive during specific hours and for specific purposes.
  • You may need to maintain a log of your driving activities.
  • You must carry a copy of the court order granting your Occupational License whenever you drive.
  • You must install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
  • You must comply with any court-ordered requirements and restrictions.

Mr. Westbrook has assisted numerous clients with Occupational Licenses, including those that were unsuccessful during the ALR process and those who were found guilty or convicted of a DWI charge.

A Houston DWI Defense Attorney You Can Trust

From day one, the Westbrook Law Firm has prioritized quality service and aggressive legal representation.  Whether you’re facing Misdemeanor or Felony DWI charges, our firm can help.

Don’t let a DWI charge and threat of a license suspension disrupt your life.  With the Westbrook Law Firm, you have a Houston DWI defense team ready to fight for you and obtain the best outcome possible.  Contact our firm today at 281-888-5581 to schedule a free and confidential consultation and learn how we can assist you.  Start protecting yourself now.