In Texas, operating a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated is a crime. ‘’Intoxicated’’ refers to the incapability to use your physical and mental abilities due to the consumption of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, or other substances. The police can arrest and charge you with DWI even if your vehicle is not moving. As a result, you could face severe repercussions for driving while intoxicated, even if it's your first crime. One of the repercussions you could face is an automatic driver’s license suspension. If your license is suspended because of DWI, you need to consult an experienced DWI attorney to help you fight for your rights.
It is normal to feel confused and disoriented after a license suspension. However, the steps you take after your license suspension make all the difference. The following are the steps you should take if your license is suspended because of a DWI in Texas:
Apply For Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing
Booking an ALR hearing gives you a platform to challenge the suspension of your driving license. It also allows your attorney to start preparing for your DWI case. Often, the ALR hearing is a short trial before an Administrative Law Judge. You and the state will have a chance to present evidence and arguments and cross-examine some witnesses. Your attorney must provide sufficient evidence to convince the judge that your license should not be suspended. However, convincing the judge to sustain your license takes work. Your attorney must back their argument with solid pieces of evidence.
You only have a short period to apply for an Administrative License Revocation hearing. You should apply for the hearing with the Department of Public Safety soon after your license has been suspended. An ALR hearing in Texas is distinct and separate from any criminal charges you could face. The hearing is only scheduled to handle matters regarding driving licenses.
Texas gives DWI defendants only 15 days from the date of their arrest to apply for a formal ALR hearing. The Department of Public Safety will respond with a letter once you submit your application. The letter will include the date, time, and location of your ALR hearing. You could sometimes be allowed to drive with a temporary driver's license until your court-set hearing, which could be months away.
Your license could be automatically suspended for two years if you fail to apply for the ALR hearing. Your license suspension period will vary depending on whether you refused to submit a chemical test or the number of your prior DWIs.
Hire An Attorney That Knows The Science Behind Breath And Blood testing
Most defendants believe that everything is lost when arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or above. Even if your blood alcohol content is above the allowable limit, you can still challenge the validity of the results.
For example, determine whether the officer who contacted the breath or blood testing is qualified. How was the blood sample preserved before the testing? Was the breathalyzer equipment well maintained and calibrated?
You should avoid assuming that the breath or blood test results are accurate since there are valid ways of proving that test results should be disregarded or excluded as false.
You must retain an attorney who knows the science behind breath and blood testing if you want to contest your DWI license suspension charges successfully. You are bound to lose if you hire any attorney from your hometown who practices transactional law or any other kind of law different from DWI. DWI license suspension cases do not need a friend's attorney or someone you hired for another type of legal transaction. Instead, it would be best if you had an attorney that understands DWI law and how DWI lawsuits are handled in court.
Apply For A Hardship License
You could obtain a hardship license if your CDL is suspended from DWI and you are a Texas resident between 15 and 18 years old. You can only qualify for a Texas hardship license if you are a first-time offender facing the allegations of driving while intoxicated with alcohol. You should also have failed the chemical test. You can only make the application after the first 30 days of your license suspension. Usually, your driver's license could be suspended for 90 days or even up to two years.
You will operate your vehicle through restricted driving privileges for six months of the suspension period upon obtaining a hardship license following a first DWI offense. Some of the reasons why the state could grant you a hardship license include the following:
- Your immediate family member has died, and your remaining family members need you to drive them temporarily to carry on the household routines.
- Your family faces an unusual economic hardship and is deprived of life's necessities.
- You have enrolled in a vocational education program.
- You have a sick family member who needs transportation to medical treatment, or you must drive the ill family member to keep the household running.
Before requesting a hardship license, you must gather proper documentation to prove that you have met all the prerequisites. The state will grant you a hardship license if you file evidence of financial responsibility through an insurance policy with the Texas DMV. You will also be required to meet the license reinstatement fee of $130 before you access a hardship license.
Apply For Occupational License
In Texas, an occupational license is also known as an Essential Needs license. If your driver's license has been suspended because of DWI, you can continue driving by obtaining an occupational license. Generally, the Department of Public Safety in Texas is responsible for determining whether your license is suspended. However, the judge can override the suspension and allow you to operate the vehicle at certain times and days. This often happens when the judge signs a court order allowing you to drive.
An occupational driving license allows you to drive to and from work and other important places, like school or grocery stores. You will need the following to obtain an occupational driver's license:
- A letter from your employer on company letterhead
- Proof of SR-22 insurance
- A three-year driving record
In addition to the above documents, you will also have to pay a filing fee to the county. The filing fee does not exceed $240. You must pay this fee when filing the petition for the occupational license. While filing your petition, you must also include the following information:
- The places you need to drive
- The reasons why you need to drive to those places
- The counties you will be operating in
- The times and days you need to drive
- The reasons for those specific times
You could use the signed court order as your license for 30 days after the judge grants you an occupational license. You will be required to adhere to specific instructions during the 30 days before the DPS issues you with the actual occupational license. Once the DPS issues you with the original occupational license, you will be free to use it as your driver’s license until the end of your suspension or upon license reinstatement.
It is a crime to violate the conditions of your occupational license. This crime falls under a class B misdemeanor, with a range of penalties that include:
- A jail term that does not exceed 180 days in a county jail
- A fine that does not exceed $2,000
In some situations, the judge could order you to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle. The IID prevents you from operating the car until you blow into breathalyzer equipment that determines whether there is alcohol on your breath. The IID logs the date and time of the test and records the information for review by the officer overseeing your probation. You will incur the cost of acquiring the device, its installation, and its removal.
Sometimes, the judge could prohibit you from driving for a specified period, even if you have an occupational license. During this period, you will not be allowed to operate your vehicle. This is known as a ''hard suspension,'' and it could be as below:
- If your license has been suspended because of a second or subsequent DWI conviction within five years, you will receive a hard suspension for one year
- If your license has been suspended for any alcohol-related or drug-related offense within five years. You will not receive an occupational license for 90 days after the date of suspension.
- If your license has been suspended because of a DWI conviction within five years, you will receive 180 days of hard suspension.
Obtain An SR-22 Insurance Form
If you commit a traffic violation like driving while intoxicated (DWI), you must obtain an SR-22 insurance form. Often, you are required to obtain an SR-22 form to have your license reinstated following the violation. The document provides evidence that you carry your vehicle's legally required responsibility insurance. If the car belongs to someone else, you can fulfill this requirement by buying a non-owner SR-22 insurance that costs less than an owner's policy.
You can file an SR-22 certificate with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) using the following steps:
- Contact your current insurance provider or find an authorized insurer. You need to confirm with your insurance provider if they file the form on your behalf because some insurers do not provide SR-22 coverage for drivers who need it.
- Pay the necessary SR-22 fee, which is often charged between $15 and $50 by most insurers. However, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee, generally $100, before submitting an SR-22 form to the DPS in Texas to reinstate your license.
- Provide an insurer proof of insurance or file directly to the DPS in Texas. In this case, you can deliver the SR-22 insurance certificate to the DPS in person or by mail. Your insurer can also file it electronically on your behalf at a fee. You must ask your insurer for the certificate if you want to file the form yourself.
- You will receive a confirmation once you make the payment and the SR-22 documents are submitted. You can access your qualification status online through the Texas DPS website. Once your documents have been processed, your status will be updated from ineligible to eligible.
If there is any update on your license status, the DPS will notify you via mail. Therefore, you should ensure that your current mailing address is on the file. You could also have to provide evidence of completing a repeat-offender DWI program if you face DWI charges and the court requires you to complete the program.
Wait Until Your Mandatory Suspension Expires
In Texas, if your license has been suspended because of a DWI, the suspension will last as follows:
- A suspension of 90 days to one year if it is your first DWI, your first DWI with an open container, your first intoxication assault, or your first DWI with a child in the vehicle
- A suspension of 90 days to one year, an additional year for a further intoxication assault in five years of any prior DWI
- A suspension of 180 days to two years, an additional two years for an additional DWI manslaughter in a time frame of ten years
- A suspension of 180 days to two years for first intoxication manslaughter and a subsequent DWI offense except for intoxication manslaughter
- One year for any DWI committed while the driver was under the age of 21
- One to two years for subsequent DWI crime within five years of any prior DWI
If you obtained an administrative license suspension for refusing to undergo chemical testing or for failing to pass a chemical test, your driver’s license could be suspended as follows:
- A suspension of 60 days if you are below 21 years and you fail a chemical test with even a slight amount of alcohol in your system
- A suspension of 90 days for your first failure to pass a chemical test
- A suspension of 120 days if you are below 21 years, you have a previous DWI conviction, and if you fail a chemical test with even a small amount of alcohol in your system.
- A suspension of 180 days for your first chemical test refusal
- A suspension of 180 days if you are below 21 years, you have two or more prior DWI convictions, and you fail to pass an intoxication test with any amount of alcohol in your system
- A suspension of one year for any subsequent failure to pass a chemical test within the prior ten years
- A suspension of two years for a subsequent refusal within ten years
Consider Alternative Resolutions
Most counties in Texas provide Pretrial Diversions, but some do not allow DWI offenders to apply. However, there are some exceptions; you need to inquire whether you are eligible for one of the exceptions. For example, Veterans Treatment Court could qualify you for a pretrial diversion for a DWI license suspension in some counties. Upon your successful completion, your DWI charges will be dismissed, and you could be eligible to apply for license reinstatement.
Another option could be an obstruction of a highway plea. This plea allows you to avoid penalties that come with DWIs and to avoid a DWI on your record.
Apply For Reinstatement
You could reinstate your license if the DPS suspends your driver's license in Texas. This will only be possible if you pay all associated fees and complete the specific requirements for reinstatement. To have your license reinstated, you will need to do the following:
- Pay the applicable reinstatement fees, which vary based on the type of violation that led to the suspension
- Wait until your mandatory suspension period expires
- Complete all the requirements for having your license reinstated
You can use the Texas DPS online license eligibility service to have your license reinstated. To use the online service, you need to provide the following information:
- Evidence of payment of the associated fees
- Your driver’s license number
- The last four digits of your social security number
- Your date of birth
You will also need to provide documents showing your compliance and reinstatement qualifications. You will also need to do other things depending on your age, the type of suspension, the reason for the suspension, and other factors. For example, your DWI license suspension will require you to pass an alcohol education program and provide proof of program completion.
Find Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Suspension of a driver's license can create numerous obstacles in your life and make it difficult for you to provide for yourself and your family. If you face allegations of driving while intoxicated in and around Texas, you need a DWI attorney to help you protect your legal rights and ensure the best outcome. At the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we provide no-obligation consultations for Texas clients who face driver's license suspensions for DWI. You, too, could benefit from our proven legal representation. Contact us today at 817-470-2128 to find out how we can help you after a DWI license suspension.