When you are stopped for suspicion of a DWI, your initial thoughts go to the criminal case, but license consequences can be devastating. An ALR hearing (or the Administrative License Revocation Hearing) is the process by which a license can be saved from suspension after an arrest for driving while intoxicated.
In Texas, when a driver is stopped on suspicion of DWI and refuses to take or fails a blood or breath test, their license will subsequently be suspended by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The individual will receive a “Notice of Suspension” – also known as a DIC 25 – which will act as a temporary driving permit while the driver decides whether or not to challenge the license suspension through an ALR hearing.
An ALR hearing is held in the presence of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who listens to the evidence in the case. DPS has the burden of proof in an ALR hearing. The driver can attack the DPS case by presenting any legal issues that may exist. Unlike the criminal case, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof in an ALR hearing is only preponderance of evidence.
After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a final decision and order. If the judge finds that DPS has proven its case, the judge will authorize the suspension of the individual’s driver’s license. On the other hand, if the judge finds that DPS has not proven its case, the individual’s driver’s license will not be suspended.
The DIC-24 warning (below) tells you that you only have 15 days to request the hearing on your license suspension.. This does not mean you will have a hearing in 15 days. It just means the request must be made within that time frame. It is common to not receive a hearing date for weeks or even months.
You can request a hearing through the following methods:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Enforcement and Compliance Service
P.O. Box 4040
Austin, TX 78765-4040
At an ALR hearing, the state will be required to show there was reasonable suspicion for a stop, probable cause for your arrest, and that you were given an opportunity to consent to a breath or blood test. In a case where you consented to give breath or blood, they have to prove the result was over .08.
Hire a criminal defense attorney on your DWI case and ask them to handle the ALR hearing for you. They will know the ins-and-outs of the ALR process and can take the best swing at winning the ALR hearing. If you end up representing yourself, follow these steps to defend your license at an ALR hearing in Texas:
A request for a hearing must be received by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Austin, Texas, no later than 15 days after you receive notice your license has been suspended or denied. The request for this hearing may be sent by written demand, fax, or any other way determined by Texas DPS.
The driver has 15 days from the date of the suspension notice to request a hearing. If a hearing is not requested within 15 days, the suspension goes into effect on the 40th day after the notice was served.
If a hearing is requested within 15 days, DPS will send a letter notifying the driver of the date, time, and location of the hearing. It can take up to 120 days for DPS to schedule a hearing. The temporary permit is valid up until an ALR hearing has been held and the judge has ruled.
You will have an option of requesting an in-person (virtual during the pandemic) or telephonic hearing. The hearing will be conducted through the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
If you have an in-person hearing, you can subpoena the officer who arrested you. If the officer does not show, you’ll generally win outright.
If you have a telephonic hearing, DPS can get into evidence without a live witness. In that case, you need to find another attack on the evidence.
An officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. If you can show a lack of reasonable suspicion, you can win the hearing. Reasonable suspicion can’t be just a hunch. There has to be something that gave the officer reason to believe you were committing an offense. Things that go to reasonable suspicion:
An officer is required to have probable cause to arrest you. This means specific articulable facts that show you committed an offense. This could be based on admissions, appearance, odors, field sobriety tests, etc. However, if there are other reasons that might explain your appearance other than intoxication, it is unlikely the officer investigated those matters – such as exhaustion, prior injuries, age, or weather conditions. If the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you, you will win the ALR hearing.
If the officer did not read you the DIC-24 statutory warning asking you for a sample of your breath or blood, you should win the ALR hearing.
Breath tests are getting to be rare these days – most agencies get blood. However, if you have a breath case (which means you consented to the test), request the “inspection, maintenance and/or repair records” for the 30 days before and after the test. If DPS does not provide them after you’ve paid for them, the breath test won’t come in as evidence in the ALR hearing. See Texas Admin Code Rule 159.151
DPS has the upper hand in these cases. They have a low burden of proof – far lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Notice they don’t have to prove that you were intoxicated in most cases. In fact, here is a breakdown of how many ALR hearings DPS won in Texas in 2015:
Once your attorney requests the ALR hearing, it can take two weeks to 120 days for DPS to schedule a hearing date. Your attorney will be notified of this date, which is typically a few weeks to a month from the date of the notice.
After the suspension period is over, you may contact your local DPS office to have your license reinstated. You will be responsible for paying a reinstatement fee, which is typically $125. Your attorney will be able to confirm your eligibility for reinstatement before you go in by logging into the DPS website.
Yes. You will be forced to pay a fee to appeal the underlying decision, but you may appeal the ALR decision. This also grants you more time to drive on your license without the suspension going into effect.