One of the most common questions drivers ask when facing DWI charges in Texas is how will a DWI arrest or conviction affect my driver’s license? This is an important question because losing your driving privileges can cause an enormous disruption to your life and daily routine.
Following an arrest for DWI, the Texas Department of Public Safety will open a civil case to determine if your driver’s license should be suspended. You are at risk of a suspension if you either: took a breath or blood test resulting in a BAC reading of .08 percent or higher or you refused to submit to breath or blood testing.
At the time of your arrest, the police officer most likely confiscated your license and issued you a temporary driving permit or “notification of suspension” which is valid for 40 days. The suspension will go into effect on the 40th day.
To prevent an automatic suspension of your license, you must request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your arrest.
*It is recommended that you have a DWI attorney request the hearing.
How Long Will My License Be Suspended?
You have the right to refuse the portable breath test when you are pulled over but you must submit to a breath or blood test at the police station. Refusing to take a chemical test after an arrest will result in a longer suspension period than failing a breath test.
- Adult DWI with BAC over .08 percent
- First offense: 90 day suspension
- Second offense occurring within 10 years of first offense: 1 year suspension
- Refusing a chemical test
- First offense: 180 day suspension
- Second offense occurring within 10 years of first offense: 2 year suspensoin
- Under 21 DWI with BAC over .08 percent
- First offense: 60 day suspension
- Second offense: 120 days suspension
- Under 21 refusing chemical test
- First offense: 6 months suspension
- Second offense within 10 years: 2 year suspension
What is an Administrative License Revocation hearing?
An ALR hearing is a hearing presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). It can take four weeks to 120 days for DPS to schedule a hearing date. You will maintain your driving privileges during the interim period.
Role of a DWI Attorney at an ALR Hearing
It’s important to have a DWI attorney represent you at this hearing because they can subpoena the arresting officer to appear in person. They can then cross-examine the officer under oath to poke holes in their case and challenge their testimony. Issues that will be discussed at the hearing may include:
- whether the officer had reasonable grounds to pull you over or arrest you
- whether there is probable cause to believe that you had been driving or was in actual physical control of your motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
- whether the officer violated your rights
- whether you were given an opportunity to provide a BAC sample and was told both orally and in writing that there would be consequences if you failed to comply
- whether the testing was conducted improperly
- lack of evidence
An ALR judge will listen to the evidence and either throw out or authorize the automatic license suspension. If the judge rules against you, you may be able to petition for a hardship license to enable you to drive for a set number of hours every week. Even if the ruling doesn’t go in your favor, many of the facts will be preserved on the record which can then be used to defend you and help you avoid a conviction at trial.