Many DWI arrestees in Texas do absolutely nothing to contest an Administrative License Suspension proceeding. Sometimes, the suspension notice is buried with all the other arrest paperwork and the deadline to request a hearing, which is 15 days from the notice, passes. But in most other cases, the defendants believe that there is no hope of winning and so there is no point in trying.
These defendants place themselves at a significant disadvantage, making a bad situation even worse.
What’s At Stake
Unlike a revoked license, a suspended license is only invalid for a specified period of time, and after that time period expires and the driver jumps through a couple of other hoops — such as providing proof of insurance and paying a reinstatement fee — the license automatically becomes valid again. In Texas, the maximum ALR suspension periods are:
- 90 days for a first failure and 180 days for a first refusal, and
- One year for a subsequent failure and two years for a subsequent refusal.
A 10-year-lookback period applies in calculating subsequent failures and refusals.
At the hearing, a paid DPS employee serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Furthermore, the ALR gearing is not a criminal proceeding, so many Constitutional protections, such as the right against self-incrimination, are inapplicable.
Things look grim, but a positive outcome is usually still possible.
In terms of the suspension, the only issue is whether the officer had probable cause to request a chemical sample. That cause must be based on either superficial evidence of intoxication (such as bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol) or circumstantial evidence (from the field sobriety tests). Either way, the evidence is usually weak, and it must do more than give the officer a “gut feeling” that the defendant was intoxicated.
As a result, the hearing officer often probates part of the suspension period. The hearing officer may even outright reduce the suspension period.
Even if these results do not come about, the ALR hearing is still a “win” for the defendant, because it gives an attorney a chance to depose the arresting officer without cost and without a prosecutor present. The information gleaned from this deposition is usually invaluable, especially if the prosecution takes place in a closed file jurisdiction that gives the defendant only minimal access to the prosecutor’s evidence before trial.
Rely on an Experienced Attorney
Assertive representation at the ALR hearing is often a key to a successful result at a DWI trial. For a free consultation with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Houston, contact the Law Office of Jim Medley. Convenient payment plans are available.