If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, you need not only focus on the criminal proceedings against you. DWI cases involve two separate proceedings. In addition to the criminal charges that put you at risk of jail time and hefty fines, you’ll also face an administrative case against your driver’s license. When you’re the subject of a traffic stop over the suspicion of DWI, the state will attempt to automatically suspend your license if you refuse to submit to or fail a breath or blood test. Having your driver’s license suspended is tough – you can’t drive to work, you can’t go shopping, you can’t drive your kids to school, you can’t drive your loved one to the hospital, and you generally lose your independence. And if you’re a CDL holder, losing your license will affect your ability to earn a living and provide for your family. What’s more, you’ll be paying for insurance for a vehicle that you cannot drive.
Thankfully, your license suspension does not go into effect immediately after your arrest. You’re afforded the right to challenge the suspension by requesting Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your arrest. While law enforcement will confiscate your plastic driver’s license immediately and give you a 40-day license, your license will be automatically suspended if you fail to request an ALR hearing within 15 days of the arrest. Making a timely ALR request, on the other hand, will place any potential suspension on hold until the hearing is conducted. These hearings are complicated, provide short preparation time, and follow a strict set of procedures than the criminal case does.
By retaining a skilled and experienced Fort Worth DWI defense attorney immediately after your arrest, you’ll give yourself a significant advantage when handling the administrative proceedings and will also increase the chances of avoiding jail time and fines associated with a DWI conviction. Contact attorney Andrew Deegan today at 817-689-7002 to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.
You only have 15 days. Act Now!
What Happens After a DWI Arrest?
If you’re arrested under suspicion of DWI, there are two things that can result in the suspension of your driver’s license:
- Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
When you have a valid driver’s license and operate a motor vehicle on any Texas road, you’re presumed to have given implied consent to a blood, breathalyzer, or other alcohol tests if you’re suspected to be driving while intoxicated. Refusing to submit to a test after being pulled over and being arrested results in automatic driver’s license suspension, even if you haven’t taken any alcoholic beverage.
If you consent to a breath or blood test and the test results reveal your BAC is .08 or higher, the law enforcement officer will arrest you, and you’ll be charged with DWI. The arresting officer will confiscate your Texas driver’s license and issue a temporary driving permit that you’ll use before you complete the administrative review process. If the test determines your BAC was .08 or above, written notification of your driver’s license suspension will be mailed to the last address contained on your license. If your address is not current, it’s important to update the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) at one of their local offices.
Notice of Driver’s License Suspension in Texas
Just because you’ve been issued a notice of suspension doesn’t mean that’s the end of your ability to drive. You’ll be issued with a pink slip known as a Notice of Suspension. This document informs you of your rights regarding your driver’s license suspension and also indicates the timeframe in which you have to request a hearing to contest your suspension. In addition, the Notice of Suspension serves as a temporary driver’s license that you’ll use after the arrest. These temporary driving privileges only last for 40 days and are meant to give you time to settle your affairs and get your license back or obtain other forms of transportation before your ability to drive is taken from you. It’s also subject to the same endorsements and restrictions as your Texas driver's license.
If you have a commercial license, the temporary permit allows you to operate commercial motor vehicles. However, it does not provide driving privileges to individuals who don’t have a driver’s license or if your license is expired, disqualified, canceled, suspended, or revoked.
Your DWI driver’s license suspension begins at the end of the 40-day period unless you timely request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension. Keep in mind that you only have 15 days from the date of the arrest in which to request a hearing. If you request a hearing on time, the permit will remain in effect until a judge makes a final decision regarding your driving privileges. Failure to act within the 15-day timeframe will result in the automatic suspension of your license after the 40 days are up. This short timeframe is the one key reason why it’s crucial to retain the right Fort Worth DWI attorney immediately after your arrest.
Duration of License Suspension for DWI
The length of a DWI license suspension can vary based on:
- The type of the driver’s license held
- The age of the driver
- The driver’s criminal history
- Circumstances of your arrest and actions taken during the DWI stop
Most first-time offenders face a DWI license suspension of 90 days to 1 year. But if you’re a first-time offense and refused to submit to a breath or blood test, your potential license suspension period is between 180 days and 2 years. This time range may also apply to a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.15 or more. If you have previous convictions for DWI in the previous ten years, your license suspension could range between 6 months and 2 years.
The suspension duration will increase if:
- You had an open container in the car
- Your BAC was above 0.08
- You had a child passenger in the car
- You caused an accident, injury, or death
Suspension Duration for Underage DWI
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under age 21. As such, any detectable amount of alcohol in their system (which can range between 0.01 and 0.079) subjects them to criminal charges. The duration of license suspension varies depending on the driver’s age and past driving infractions. An underage driver convicted of DWI could face a 60-day license suspension for a first-time offense, 120-day suspension for a second offense, and 180-day suspension for a third or consecutive DWI offense. The length of time can be reduced if the minor complies with community supervision and use an ignition interlock device (IID). Minors who refuse to submit to a blood or breath test can face a license suspension of up to 180 days or up to 2 years if they have a prior DWI conviction. This can also cause a delay in obtaining a license if they don’t have one.
Suspension Duration for CDL Holders
A CDL holder with a blood or breath test and is found to have a BAC of 0.04 or more while operating a commercial vehicle; or who refuses to submit to chemical testing can face a CDL suspension of up to 1 year. Their driver’s license will also be suspended for 90 to 180 days. If the CDL holder had a BAC of 0.04 or higher while operating a commercial motor vehicle placarded for hazardous materials, their CDL will be suspended for up to 3 years. It’s important to keep in mind that being convicted of a third DWI offense or using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony will result in a lifetime disqualification of a CDL.
The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing
If you’re charged with DWI and want to contest the suspension of your license, then you must request a formal hearing. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. This is a civil administrative process in which individuals who refused to submit to or who failed a blood, breath, or urine test attempt to save their driver’s license. The hearing is basically a mini-trial in front of an Administrative Law judge. If you request a hearing within 15 days, a hearing date will be set for you. At the hearing, you and the state will have the chance to present arguments and evidence and to also cross-examine witnesses.
The state bears the burden of proving that your license should be suspended. Typically, the state proves their case by showing that you refused to submit to a test or that your BAC level exceeded the limit.
You refused to consent to a test: Refusing to submit to a test in order to determine your BAC subjects you to the suspension of your driving privileges. The state has to prove more than the mere fact that you refused to consent to a test. The state must show that there was reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle and arresting you. If there was no reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, any evidence related to the traffic stop will be excluded, including your refusal to submit to a test.
In addition, the state must show that testing was properly requested, which means that the officers they read you the Implied Consent Form. This informs you that you gave implied consent to submit to testing if arrested for DWI and that the officers can’t force you to take a test without a warrant. You’re also informed that refusal will lead to license suspension. In essence, the state must prove that this information was given to you, and you did, in fact, refuse any testing.
Your BAC was over the limit: If you were tested and had a BAC of 0.08 or more, the state must first show that there was reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. Also, the state must provide evidence to prove that your BAC was .08 or more.
The arresting officer may be present at the hearing. The state may also use a sworn affidavit from the arresting officer attesting to his/her recollection of the arrest. But you have the right to subpoena the officer to attend the hearing and testify. Having the officer testify can enable your attorney to pin down the officer’s story and gather more information that was not included in the police report. That information can help build a defense for your criminal case. However, it’s important to note that the chances of winning increase if the arresting officer is not present. ALR hearings are technical, complex, and nerve-wracking for a person whose license is on the line. It’s never a good idea to attempt to represent yourself. Retain an attorney immediately after an arrest.
ALR hearings can be fought and won. During the hearing, your attorney will attempt to cast questions on the arguments and evidence presented by the state in order to prove that your license should not be suspended. This can involve proving that (a) the results of blood or breath tests are invalid or (b) your rights have been violated. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your case, police paperwork, video footage, and statements to create the best strategies for you. These may include:
- Showing that the arresting officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to pull you over
- Showing the officer didn’t have probable cause to arrest you for DWI
- Challenging the accuracy of test results
- Arguing that field sobriety tests were administered inappropriately
- Showing inconsistencies in the arresting officer’s testimony
After the hearing, the judge will consider all relevant information that was presented by both sides. Upon careful consideration, the judge can decide in your favor or against you. It’s important to note that your license can be suspended even if your criminal charges are dropped or you’re acquitted.
Your Options After the ALR Hearing
If the judge decides in your favor, you have the right to get your license back and retain your driving privileges. But before state returns your license back, you will have to complete a reinstatement form, prove that you’ve completed a driver’s education or substance abuse program, if it was ordered, and pay a fee of $125 to DPS.
If you lose your ALR hearing, your license will be automatically suspended, depending on the circumstances of your case. But this does not mean that all is lost - you have the right to appeal the results of your hearing. An appeal must be filed 30 days from the posting of the results of your ALR hearing. If you miss the deadline, your license suspension will go into effect on the 31st day after the judgment is entered.
If your appeal is approved, it will put the suspension on hold for 90 days. This can be very useful if you’re preparing for a trial in your criminal case. If your DWI charges are dropped or you’re acquitted while your ALR appeal is still pending, your ALR case will be dropped, and your license reinstated. But even if your license is ultimately suspended, there are many exceptions that would allow you to continue operating your vehicle if you meet certain requirements.
Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License
Driving on a suspended license in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor, or it could be a more serious charge in certain circumstances. If convicted of this offense, you’ll face 3 to 60 days in jail and fines ranging between $100 and $500. You may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if:
- Your license was suspended for operating your vehicle while intoxicated
- You did not have valid insurance at the time of your offense
- You have a prior conviction of driving after license suspension
The maximum penalties for a Class B misdemeanor include a fine of $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail. And if you cause a car crash that results in injury or death, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty can involve up to 1 year in jail or a $4,000 fine. What’s more, if convicted for driving while your license is suspended, you may be required to pay a $250 surcharge fee each year for the next three years.
The benefits of driving with a suspended license do not outweigh the potentially severe penalties. Sometimes life happens, and you may not have another option, but the law does not care whether you need to drive to take care of your family, look for a job, or perform other daily tasks. If you were arrested for driving with a suspended license, you can rely on me to provide legal counsel and aggressive representation in court.
Getting an Occupational or Hardship Driver’s License
A driver’s license suspension is a very harsh punishment for people who drive for a living, and for those who wish to lead normal lives after their DWI case is concluded. Luckily, The DPS offers the possibility of obtaining a hardship or occupational license to people who show a substantial need to drive and who have not applied for such a license within the past ten years.
The DPS may issue you an occupational driver’s license if you show “good cause” that you need to drive to:
- Drive your kids to school
- Keep your job or get to work
- Attend religious services
- Get to college
- Do your shopping
- Receive necessary medical treatment
An occupational license is generally valid for 1 year and will allow you to drive during certain hours and only to certain locations. You may be required to attend a substance abuse treatment program or use an ignition interlock device in order to obtain your occupational driver’s license. It’s important to have an attorney help with your license. Your attorney will be able to show that you have good cause for getting an occupational license and can also help with your application, which involves:
- Filing a petition with the court where the suspension was ordered.
- Getting a signed court order, which also serves as a 1-month temporary license.
- Providing DPS with the petition and court order, a $10 occupational license fee, and your financial responsibility insurance certificate (form SR22).
Alternatively, you can apply for a hardship driver’s license if you can show that:
- Your inability to drive will cause excessive economic hardship for your family.
- You need a hardship license to pursue a vocational education program that required a driver’s license
- The hardship license is necessary because of a family member’s illness
Not everyone will qualify for a provisional license, and some individuals may face a statutory waiting period before they’re able to get an occupational license. An attorney can help you make a compelling argument that you need a hardship or occupational license for important life activities.
Find a Fort Worth DWI License Suspension Attorney Near Me
A suspended driver’s license can impact your ability to get to move around and take care of important tasks. Your best chance for preventing the suspension is by hiring an experienced Fort Worth DWI defense attorney to help you navigate the intricacies of the administrative ALR hearing. I know how to help. Some of the services I provide for my clients include:
- Requesting your ALR license suspension hearing
- Representing you at your hearing
- Petitioning the court for an occupational license
- Appealing a license suspension
As a forensic scientist who has handled a large number of DWI cases and ALR hearings, I have the skillset and insight to highlight your defenses, poke holes in the State’s case, and help you win your case. I can help you file your request for an ALR hearing, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself, and preventing missed deadlines. I’ll fight for the best possible outcome in your DWI case. To discuss your case with me and learn how I can help you keep your license after your DWI arrest, call me today at 817-689-7002.