ALR Hearings, or administrative license revocation hearings, tend to be straightforward in Harris County. This civil process occurs after the police arrest someone for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Moreover, the county schedules the hearing if you refuse a blood or breath test when pulled over.
The purpose of this hearing is simple. The State reviews your case and decides whether to revoke your driver’s license. If you partner with a DWI attorney, you have an advocate on your side to guide you through this process.
However, the most important factor is the deadline. After an arrest for drunk driving, you have 15 days to save your license. That’s why it is crucial to work with a local DWI attorney as soon as possible.
What Leads to an ALR Hearing?
Before we dive too deeply into ALR hearings, it’s good to understand how someone finds themselves in one. The process starts as soon as an officer suspects someone of drunk driving.
Here’s the basic timeline.
- A police officer pulls a driver over because they suspect drunk driving.
- The officer conducts field sobriety tests to evaluate the driver.
- Next, the officer measures the driver’s BAC with a test.
- In the event you refuse or fail a BAC test, the officer serves you a notice.
- From there, you have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request your ALR hearing. Failure to request before the deadline results in an automatic suspension that goes into effect 40 days after you receive the notice.
- At the scene of the arrest, the officer confiscates your license and issues you a temporary driving permit.
- At the end of your suspension, you have to pay a reinstatement fee to renew or reissue your license.
If you refuse to take any of the sobriety tests, it results in an automatic suspension of your license. Typically, the suspension lasts anywhere from 90 days to two years. This is because of the implied consent laws in Texas.
Unfortunately, the suspension remains in place regardless of the outcome of your case. However, working with a DWI lawyer means you have someone to fight to protect your rights and your license.
How to Request ALR Hearings
Next, let’s take a look at how to request ALR hearings. When you partner with a criminal lawyer, they handle the process on your behalf. Still, it’s a good idea to understand what happens.
As mentioned earlier, you have to request this hearing within 15 days of your notice. When you do so, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) sends you a letter at the address on your record. This letter details the date, time, and location of your hearing.
In some cases, it takes the DPS up to 120 days to get your hearing on the calendar. Luckily, your license remains active up until the hearing occurs.
Unfortunately, missing the deadline means they deny your request. The denial comes through the mail as well.
If you have a DWI defense attorney helping you, your chances of success improve significantly. Moreover, you have an advocate to listen to you, help you understand your situation, and build a defense for your case.
What Happens in ALR Hearings
In Texas, it’s the State Office of Administrative Hearings that handles ALR hearings. The first thing you’ll notice is how different this hearing is from a trial. The system for administrative hearings is separate from that of criminal hearings.
Here are the basics of what happens in an ALR hearing:
- Your lawyer presents evidence that you deserve to keep your license.
- The DPS presents its evidence for their case to revoke.
- An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) considers both arguments and renders a decision.
When you have a DWI attorney with you, they examine the details of your arrest, tests, BAC, and more. If they find a flaw in the process, the behavior of the officer, or the procedure, they leverage that to argue against the validity of your arrest.
Similarly, the representative from the DPS presents evidence that shows why the ALJ should suspend your license. From there, the judge makes their decision.
If they decide in favor of the DPS, they issue an order to suspend your license. When they don’t feel that the DPS evidence is up to par, your license survives and you drive another day.
Lastly, the final order goes out to all the parties. If the decision doesn’t land in your favor, it’s still possible to appeal. Your attorney will help you understand that process as well and discuss your options with you.
What If I Have to Drive for Work?
Depending on the results of the ALR hearing, you might need to apply for an occupational license. While this version of a license has restrictions, it allows you to drive for work, school, and essential household duties.
After unsuccessful ALR hearings, this process involves a petition to one of the following.
- County or district court
- Justice of the Peace
- Court of original jurisdiction (where the DWI happened)
Then, the court decides whether to allow you to apply for an occupational license.
ALR Hearings in Houston, TX
Losing your license in a city like Houston, TX, has a massive impact on how you live your life. For the most part, this is a commuter city that requires a vehicle. Think about this for a moment.
- How do you get to and from work or school?
- Is there someone to take you to the grocery store every time you need something?
- How easy is it to meet up with your friends?
ALR hearings have great consequences. However, they don’t need to weigh down your future. When you partner with an experienced DWI lawyer, you have someone to fight for your future.
At Universal Law Group, our criminal lawyers have experience in Houston and Harris County. We understand how they operate and know how to build a strong defense for your case.
Never let ALR hearings stand in the way of your life. Schedule a free consultation with our legal team today to see how we can fight for you.