Texas DWI License Suspension and ALR Hearing Information

By | May 30, 2017

alr hearing dwi suspension in txWill my driver’s license probably be suspended?

Yes. Here’s why. The Department of Public Safety will file an administrative action against you before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (“SOAH,” which rhymes with “Noah”) in which they really have to prove very little.

They have to prove that the officer who pulled you over had reasonable suspicion to do so. He didn’t even need to see you commit a traffic offense. They have to prove that the officer had probable cause to believe that you had been driving while intoxicated.

Some might think that this is a criminal case and these things would be hard for DPS to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. But the case about your license isn’t a criminal case. It’s an administrative case.

If you agreed to do all tests that the officer requested you do, they have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (in other words, that it’s a little more likely than not) that you were, in fact, driving. If you declined to do any test requested of you, they only have to prove that there was probable cause to believe that you were driving.

If you agreed to provide a sample of your breath or blood, they have to prove that you had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams.

     If I’m probably going to lose my license, why bother with having the Administrative License Revocation hearing?

Having an Administrative License Revocation hearing is a win / win proposition for you. Your lawyer should always subpoena the officer who stopped you and the officer who arrested you. If either of them fail to show up, you win — your license isn’t suspended. Even if they both show up, it’s still possible to win these cases, though it’s unusual.

But even if the Administrative Law Judge authorizes DPS to suspend your license, it is still worth having the hearing because your lawyer will have a chance to cross-examine the officers in your case. Your attorney can pin them down, under oath, about the facts in your case. He can get them to commit themselves to a version of the facts that may contradict the video in the case. Or the officer will testify one way under oath at the ALR hearing and say the exact opposite at a pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against you. Even if the officer testifies well and accurately, your lawyer is in a better position to evaluate your case if you have an ALR hearing.

Let’s take the example of “Ken Rand.” He had been drinking at a bar in South Austin, then decided to go home. Ken didn’t drive very far before he decided that he shouldn’t be driving at all. So he did the responsible thing. He pulled off the road and parked his car. It so happened that he parked his car behind a movie complex that had been struggling to keep graffiti artists from tagging the theater walls.

As a result, the movie complex hired an Austin Independent School District (“AISD”) Police Department officer to work off-duty just to make sure that kids weren’t tagging the building or breaking into cars.

The officer saw Ken pull into the parking lot and went over to investigate.

At the ALR hearing, the officer testified that he heard Ken slur just a little bit when he greeted the officer, but that apart from the slur, when they said “hello” Ken and the officer had a perfectly normal conversation for 10 minutes while they waited for an Austin Police Department officer to arrive to take over the investigation. During that time, the officer had no problem understanding Ken and Ken had no problem understanding the officer.

Later, at the criminal case hearing, the same AISD police officer testified that Ken slurred his speech constantly during the conversation, that he had had difficulty understanding Ken, that it was not just when Ken said “hello.”

So I had transcripts prepared from both the ALR hearing and the criminal case suppression hearing and I showed them both to the prosecutor, highlighting the parts where they contradicted each other. I put the question this way: “Which time did the officer tell the truth?”

The prosecutor dismissed the DWI charge against “Ken.”

Related information:

ALR Hearing Request Form (pdf)
15 Days to Request ALR Hearing
DWI License Suspension in Texas