Administrative license revocation FAQ
What is an ALR hearing?
It is a civil hearing where the Department of Public Safety (DPS) attempts to suspend your driver’s license.
Why are they trying to do that?
It is the law. A license suspension is initiated automatically when someone is arrested for DWI and they blow over .08 on the breathalyzer. It is also initiated if someone refuses to blow in the breathalyzer or refuses to give blood if the police request it. The suspension for refusing to blow or give blood is based on the legal theory that by getting a driver’s license, you have agreed to give breath or blood when requested by law enforcement (implied consent). However, the suspension can be delayed and challenged at an ALR hearing.
Is the ALR hearing part of the criminal case?
No. A DWI triggers two legal issues. The main one is the criminal charge for DWI – this is “Travis County vs. You”. The second legal issue is the civil case for suspending your license – this is “DPS vs. Your Driver’s License”. The criminal prosecutors (County Attorney) do not coordinate with the civil prosecutors (DPS). Neither side cares what happens on the other side.
Is there always an ALR hearing?
No, it must be requested within 15 days of the DWI arrest.
What happens at the hearing?
We subpoena the stopping and arresting officer(s) and cross-examine them on the reason for the stop and why they arrested you.
Do I need to be there for the ALR?
No. If you are at the hearing, the prosecutors could call you as a witness and put you on the stand – asking questions that would likely incriminate you. For example, “How much did you have to drink?”
Can you win the hearing?
It is possible to win, but unlikely. The police officer only needs to convince the judge that he/she had reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to arrest you. Reasonable suspicion usually means a traffic violation (no matter how small) and a couple of signs of intoxication (such as odor of alcohol, stumbling and/or bloodshot eyes).
Why is the burden so low for them?
It doesn’t take much for them to win because this is a civil issue – not criminal. All that is at stake is your ability to drive. You are not at risk of being thrown in jail in an ALR hearing. So the law doesn’t require the high burden of a criminal case – which is, of course, beyond a reasonable doubt.
If it is almost impossible to win the hearing, why do you request one?
We never know what we will discover at the ALR hearing. Sometimes we find out information that helps us on the criminal case. Also, requesting an ALR hearing delays the license suspension (up to 3 or 4 months). This delay allows our clients more time to prepare for the suspension. Plus, we do occasionally win (about 15% of the time) because the police officers don’t show up for the hearing.
Why don’t they show up sometimes?
Who knows? I usually joke that they are at the gun range, working out, writing right-wing blog posts, or with their mistresses. Most likely they are sleeping (because they work crazy hours). If the officer has a good excuse (such as vacation, training, sick, etc.), the judge will usually give DPS a continuance.
What is a continuance?
A continuance is when the judge resets the hearing for a later date. Either side can request a continuance. It is up to the judge whether to grant or deny the request. The judge will usually agree to one or two continuances before denying the request.
If we win the ALR hearing does that mean my license won’t be suspended?
Your license can still be suspended on the criminal side of the case. However, we can often avoid a suspension (on the criminal side) if this is your first DWI. It is much more difficult if it is your second DWI.
What happens after the ALR hearing?
The judge makes a decision and faxes us the result. This usually takes a couple of days. We will then send you an e-mail update letting you know the result.
If we lose is my license suspended immediately?
Yes. But the suspension is not entered into the DPS computer for 3-5 days. This is important because if you are stopped by the police during this time, they won’t know that your license is suspended. So we have a short grace period to get an Occupational License (assuming you are eligible).