When motorists in Texas are arrested on DWI charges or violate the state’s implied consent law by refusing to submit to a chemical test, they may seek to retain or restore their driving privileges by requesting an administrative license revocation hearing. This is a civil procedure that is not connected to a DWI criminal case. If a motorist wishes to request an ALR hearing, they must do so within 15 days of being issued a suspension or disqualification notice by a police officer or within 20 days of the date of a suspension letter. Hearings can be requested by mail, by phone, by fax machine or online.
Motorists who request ALR hearings are notified by mail when and where to appear. It can take up to four months to schedule a hearing. ALR hearings are presided over by an administrative law judge, but there is no jury. If you request an ALR hearing, you or your attorney will be able to make arguments and present evidence. Once the judge has heard all of the arguments, he or she will decide whether or not your driver’s license will be suspended. The evidence presented in an ALR hearing may also be used to fight DWI charges in a criminal court.
Motorists who wish to appeal the decision a judge made in an ALR hearing are given 30 days from the start of their driver’s license suspensions to file an appeal. The appeal petition must be taken to a District or County Court, and the clerk of the court must sign it. The signed petition should then be sent by certified mail to the ALR program office in Austin. When the appellate court reaches a decision, motorists are notified by mail.
While ALR hearings and DWI trials are unconnected, the matters involved are often the same. To avoid a driver’s license suspension, a motorist could argue that a police officer acted improperly or the results of a toxicology test are unreliable. Motorists could also mount an affirmative defense based on involuntary intoxication or necessity.