Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious crime in the state of Texas, and it can subject drivers to a number of short- and long-term penalties that jeopardize their financial well-being, freedom, and future. In addition to criminal penalties that may include hefty fines, terms of imprisonment in a jail or state prison, and court-ordered DWI education courses, convicted individuals also face repercussions to their driver’s license and driving privileges.
Because driving is considered a privilege and not a right, motorists convicted of DWI in Dallas or any other county in the state of Texas face repercussions to their driver’s license. However, just as accused individuals have a right to defend themselves against criminal allegations levied against them by the government, they also have the right to protect their driving privileges through the Texas Department of Public Safety Administration License Revocation (ALR) Program.
At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Dallas DWI lawyers are led by Attorney Scott Palmer, a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our team also includes attorneys who have accumulated decades of legal experience, as well a former prosecutor (Attorney Rebekah Perlstein). Their unique insight and backgrounds allow our firm to fight aggressively on behalf of clients facing all types of DWI charges, and to provide them with the representation they need during ALR hearings.
Because the DWI process can be an unfamiliar journey, our team wanted to provide a few important key points about ALR hearings, your rights as a driver, and what our team can do to help.
- ALR hearings are NOT criminal cases – When you are arrested for DWI in Texas, your case will involve two separate and distinct matters. This includes your criminal case, which concerns whether or not you are guilty of committing a crime and what penalties you face, and administrative proceedings with the TxDPS concerning your driver’s license. The ALR program is a civil administrative process unrelated to your criminal court case, and it concerns your conduct in relation to Texas’ Transportation Code. ALR proceedings can result in penalties when a driver arrested for DWI refuses to submit to chemical testing, or fails a chemical test.
- Time is of the essence – One of the most important things to understand following a DWI arrest is that you only have 15 days to request an ALR hearing. By scheduling a hearing within the allotted time frame, you will have the opportunity to defend your driving privileges and the automatic license suspension that takes effect when your 40-day temporary driving permit, issued on the date of your arrest, expires. While you await a hearing, the proposed suspension will be put on hold. Any requests for a hearing after the 15 day deadline will be denied, and your license suspension will take effect.
- Potential penalties – Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, as well as factors that include prior convictions, you can face several potential penalties. These generally include a license suspension (up to 1 year for a first offense, and up to two years for a second or third offense, depending on the issues involved), as well an annual surcharge fee for three years to retain your license. Following two or more convictions, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, which requires a breath sample to ensure you are not intoxicated in order to start the engine.
- How an attorney can help – Just as you have the right to challenge the prosecution’s version of facts in your criminal case, you also have the right to raise challenges during your ALR hearing. These challenges can be supported by evidence for issues commonly examined by TxDPS, including the underlying reason for you being stopped by law enforcement, the results of field sobriety tests of chemical tests, prior convictions, and BAC level, among others. With an attorney by your side, you can build the supporting evidence and arguments needed for your hearing, as well as the strategies needed to avoid suspension and protect your driving privileges.
The loss of one’s driver’s license is a considerable penalty in DWI cases, as it impact an individual’s ability to travel to and from work and handle the demands of daily life. It can also result in added expenses associated with the need to pay for transportation and rides. Remember, TxDPS has the burden of proving cause for your license suspension, and you have every right to challenge their reasons.
To learn more about ALR hearings, DWI defense, and how Scott H. Palmer, P.C. can fight for you, call (214) 891-3382 for a consultation.