What is a Texas ALR Hearing?

After police arrest a driver for either a DWI or DUI in Texas, two things happen. First, the state charges him with a crime. That is the DWI criminal case. But a second thing happens after the DWI arrest. It is a DPS license suspension. Equally important, this license suspension is different from the DWI case because it is a civil penalty rather than a criminal one.

Namely, Texas law allows DPS to suspend the driver’s license of people arrested for DWI or DUI. Nevertheless, the driver has a right to challenge this suspension. And that is what an ALR hearing does. It gives the driver a time, manner, and place to fight the DPS license suspension. In sum, the ALR hearing gives the driver a chance to avoid this civil penalty.

Finally, the ALR hearing also creates an opportunity for the driver to fight his DWI charge. In particular, ALR hearings are “on the record.” The means the court records the witnesses testimony. Additionally, the driver can call the officer that arrested him to testify at the hearing. This allows the driver to get a copy of the officer’s statements from the ALR hearing and use them against the officer at the later DWI trial. This is a tried and true trial strategy.

What happens at a DWI ALR Hearing?

DPS must prove certain facts at the ALR hearing. The facts DPS must show will depend on two things: (1) whether the driver provided a BAC sample that is above the limit; or (2) whether the driver declined to provide a BAC sample. To see why this matters, let’s look at both of these options.

BAC Failure Cases.

If the driver provided a breath or blood sample that was over the limit, then DPS must show the following at the ALR hearing:

  1. The adult driver’s BAC was .08 or greater; and
  2. The officer had reasonable suspicion to stop or probable cause to arrest the driver for DWI.

In short, if DPS can show both of these facts, the the Judge will suspend the person’s license.

BAC Refusal Cases.

On the other hand, if the driver declined to provide a breath or blood test, then DPS must show:

  1. The officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop or arrest the driver;
  2. The officer had probable cause to believe the driver was DWI;
  3. After the arrest, the officer requested the driver to provide a breath or blood test; and
  4. The driver refused to provide a breath or blood test.

Again, if DPS shows these facts, then the judge will suspend the person’s license.

What is the Texas Implied Consent Law?

All states have laws that ban motorists from driving with a BAC over the limit. However, these laws require suspected drunk drivers to provide either a breath or blood sample. If they do not provide a sample, then DPS will penalize the driver with an extra-long license suspension. This is the essence of the Texas Implied Consent law.

Put differently, our driver’s license comes with a condition. If police arrest us on suspicion of DWI, then we agree to provide a BAC test. If we do not, then DPS will suspend our driving privilege for a longer period of time. In short, the point of the law listed below is to encourage suspected DWI drivers to voluntarily provide a sample.

Texas Transportation Code.Texas Implied Consent Law.
724.011(a).If a person is arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was operating a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while intoxicated, or an offense under Section 106.041, Alcoholic Beverage Code, the person is deemed to have consented, subject to this chapter to submit to the taking of one or more specimens of the person's breath or blood for analysis to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence in the person's body of a controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance.

724.011(b).A person arrested for an offense described by Subsection (a) may consent to submit to the taking of any other type of specimen to determine the person's alcohol concentration.

How long will DPS suspend my driver’s license if I failed the BAC test?

Age of Driver.Length of ALR Suspension.Prior ALR Suspensions.
Adult90 daysFirst Offense.
Adult1 YearOne or more priors that happened within 10 years of the instant arrest.
Minor60 days.First Offense.
Minor120 days.One prior.
Minor180 days.Two or more priors.
An "adult" means an individual 21 years of age or older.

A "minor" means an individual under 21 years of age.

How long will DPS suspend my driver’s license if I refused to provide a BAC test?

Age of Driver.Length of Suspension.Prior ALR Suspensions.
Adult180 days.First Offense.
Adult2 years.One or more prior DWI related suspensions.
Minor180 days.First Offense.
Minor2 years.One or more prior DWI related suspensions.

Can you show me how to request an ALR hearing?

There are 5 different ways to request an ALR hearing. They are as follows:

  1. By mail: Send a request in writing to the following address: Texas Department of Public Safety, Enforcement and Compliance Service, P.O. Box 4040, Austin, Texas 78765-4040;
  2. By phone: Call 800-394-9913 (ALR only);
  3. By Fax: Fax in your request to the following number: 512-424-2650;
  4. Online: DPS allows you to request an ALR hearing online; or
  5. Hire an attorney: If you hire a San Antonio DWI Attorney, he or she will make the request for you.

What information should I include in my ALR request?

Make sure your ALR request includes the following information:

  • Your full name as it appears on your driver’s license;
  • Driver’s license number;
  • Date of birth;
  • Email address;
  • Current mailing address;
  • Phone number;
  • Date of arrest;
  • County of arrest;
  • Name of the arresting officer;
  • The agency the officer works for. For example, SAPD or Bexar County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Include the type of test provided, i.e., breath or blood; and
  • Finally, if you provided a BAC sample or refused.

Can I represent myself at an ALR hearing?

Yes. But it is a really bad idea. You will need to follow the ALR rules. If you do not, you may lose your case by default. Nonetheless, there are really good online resources for drivers who represent themselves. You should review them carefully and follow all their guidelines.

Texas DWI and ALR Defense.

DWI cases are a giant headache. Not only are they expensive, they are also stressful. To add to that, a DWI arrest also sets off a possible license suspension. If you are in this position, do not panic. You have options. But you need to move quickly.

Above all, the first thing on your to-do-list should be to request the ALR hearing. Do this as soon as possible. Critically, you only have 15 days from the date you were arrested to request the hearing. If you do not request a hearing within 15 days, then DPS will suspend your license without a hearing.

Law Office of Genaro R. Cortez, P.L.L.C.

730 West Hildebrand Avenue
Suite 2,
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Phone: 210-733-7575
Fax: 210-733-7578
Email: genaro.cortez@cortezlawyer.org