2023 Travis County DWI Guide Part 3 - Driver's License Consequences
A DWI messes with your life in a lot of ways, and one big way is with your Driver’s License. This section discusses the consequences of a DWI on your driving privileges.
If you refused or failed the breath test, it’s likely that the police confiscated your driver’s license. Many people think this means that their license is already suspended, but this is NOT the case. However, it will be suspended automatically if you don’t take action. In the meantime, you are ok to drive and even go to the DMV for a replacement license if needed.
You have 15 days from your arrest to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR hearing). This hearing determines whether your license will be suspended. This is a strict deadline and if you miss it, your license will be AUTOMATICALLY suspended after 40 days. Your lawyer can request this hearing for you. If you do not have a lawyer, you can request your hearing here:
Make sure to save the email confirmation you receive in case DPS loses your request. This can and does happen!
The ALR hearing is a civil matter that is separate from the criminal case. The police only need to show probable cause for the stop and the DWI investigation. Sometimes my clients will ask why the case against their Driver’s License is suspended even after the DWI is dismissed. But, they are in different courts and the result in one case does not affect the other. Depending on the exact circumstances of your DWI, the ALR suspension can last from 90 days (for a failure) to 2 years (for a second refusal).
Even after requesting an ALR hearing, there is still a good chance your license will be suspended. But, it is still best practice to request the hearing anyway, because it accomplishes three things.
1) You force the state to show probable cause for your DWI arrest. They also must prove that they read the statutory warning to you correctly, and that you actually did refuse or fail the breath test. If they cannot show both of these things, your license will not be suspended. In reality, these are usually easy for the state to show, but the ALR hearing is still worthwhile, for the reasons below.
2) You can subpoena and question the law enforcement officer who arrested you and conducted the DWI investigation. If the officer that conducted the initial stop is different from the officer conducting the DWI investigation, you can subpoena both. Questioning the officers is a form of discovery. You can pin down the officer to certain testimony and find out more of what happened from the officer’s perspective. You can see how the officer performs under cross-examination. The ALR hearing is on the record and you can request a transcript of the proceeding. The information you gather can sometimes help with pretrial motions or the trial phase of the criminal case.
3) You can buy yourself some time to sort out your driver’s license. Most of us rely on our ability to drive in our daily life. If that right is going to be taken away, we need to plan for it. You can either make arrangements for other modes of transportation or acquire an Occupational License (discussed next). By requesting an ALR hearing, you buy yourself at least a month or two. Additionally, you are statutorily entitled to one continuance to set the hearing off for another month or so. This will give you the time you need to make other arrangements and prepare for an ODL if necessary.
The Occupational License (ODL)
If, after the ALR hearing, your license is suspended, you can apply for an Occupational License, which looks and functions almost exactly like a regular drivers license, with a few exceptions. You can only drive in the counties you request, and you can only drive for a 12-hours per day (usually something like 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, but this can be flexible.) You can only drive for certain purposes, such as work, household duties, church, etc. These reasons can be flexible as well, but unless you’re working in the bar district, you’re not going to be able to drive down 6th street late on a Friday night.
1) Do I qualify for an ODL?
To qualify, you cannot have had more than 2 ODLs over the past 10 years. Your license also cannot be suspended due to a medical reason that prevents you from driving. Most people charged with a DWI will qualify for an ODL. You can check whether you are eligible at the following website:
2) What do I need to do for my ODL?
You don’t need an attorney to handle your ODL petition. However, if you have hired atx.legal to handle your DWI, we include the ODL petition with attorney fees. You will still need to cover court costs (about $500 – see fees section below.)
You will need to prepare the following when applying for your ODL
Petition and Proposed Order.
This is a petition that you file with the court. If you are charged with a DWI, it must be filed in the court where your DWI is pending (even though it is a civil matter it is filed in criminal court.)
Driving record (Type AR – $20 fee).
You must order a certified abstract of your driving record. You can request this online. The link to order your license is:
Texas Driver’s License Manager
The SR-22 is a document provided by your insurance company. It is simply a document that confirms that you have valid liability insurance, but courts will not accept the standard proof of insurance. It has to be an SR-22. Not all insurance companies provide an SR-22. Also, it can sometimes be beneficial to use an additional insurance company just for the SR-22 so that your current carrier does not raise your rates.
You must pay a number of fees for your ODL.
1) filing fee with the court (about $350)
2) DPS Reinstatement fee (usually $125, but can be more in some circumstances)
3) Certified Copies of the petition and order (approximately $35)
4) ODL fee ($20 for 2 years)
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
The effects of a DWI on a CDL can be severe. When your license is suspended following an ALR hearing, you can get an Occupational License for day-to-day driving, but there is nothing comparable for a CDL. Your CDL is going to be suspended, and if you rely on it for work, it’s going to be a big problem.
Also, if convicted, the DWI is a disqualifying event, and a second DWI can prevent you from getting a CDL for life. Additionally, even if you are still eligible for a CDL, a DWI is going to make it challenging to get any job that requires driving a truck.
ATX.legal no longer handles ODLs on their own, but it is included in attorney fees for the DWI. Want to do it yourself? This site can help: