What is an ALR hearing?
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI and refused a breath and blood test, the clock is ticking on your license. You have 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing or your drivers license will be automatically suspended in 40 days. An ALR hearing gives you a chance to contest the suspension. At the ALR hearing, the state must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (which is a lower standard than Beyond Reasonable Doubt) that the officer 1) Had probable cause for the stop and to arrest for DWI, and 2) Correctly warned you of the consequences of refusing or failing a breath or blood test.
Statistically, an ALR is rarely successful for defendants charged with a DWI. Why? Because the standard is so low. They don’t need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated. They only need to show that there was enough evidence for probable cause. Sometimes it can be shown that the officer failed to read the warnings correctly and win on that ground. Sometimes the officer fails to show up to the hearing and the defendant can win that way too. For a “normal” hearing, the Judge often rubber-stamps the suspension – even in cases where a judge in a criminal court has thrown out the DWI due to lack of probable cause.
Why request an ALR hearing?
Even if there are few prospects of saving your license, there are at least two other good reasons to request an ALR hearing. First, doing so will buy you some time to get things in order before you need to worry about being without the ability to drive. You can also prepare to get an Occupational License so that you can continue to have a vehicle for essential needs.
Second, the ALR hearing can be a good way to get some additional discovery because you or your attorney will be allowed to question the police officer about the stop and subsequent arrest. If there are any problems with either the stop or the arrest, the officers testimony at the ALR hearing is on the record and can be used at a DWI trial if it is helpful, or if the officer contradicts him/herself.
How to request an ALR hearing?
One important point: The ALR hearing is a completely separate proceeding from your DWI. It’s considered a civil proceeding, not criminal. You are not entitled to an attorney in a civil proceeding. Also, just because you are successful in disposing of the DWI, the ALR proceeding does not go away. It is a completely different proceeding in a different court with a different cause number.
I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. You must request the ALR within 15 days of your arrest. If you hire an attorney within this time period, he or she can do that for you. If you are hiring an attorney outside of that window, or if the deadline is approaching, you can and should request it yourself HERE.
In 30-60 days, you will get a hearing date. You can represent yourself at the hearing or hire an attorney later. Be sure to keep the emailed receipt. Otherwise, If DPS loses the request, you could be denied a hearing. DPS can and does lose requests. Also, when meeting with criminal attorneys, be sure to find out if they will handle your ALR as part of the DWI, or if that is not covered.
Rob Chesnutt is an attorney at ATX Legal. He handles criminal defense in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties, and personal injury cases across Texas. This blog post is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice for your specific issue, you can call us at 512-677-5003, or visit atx.legal to set up a free case evaluation.