McAllen Criminal Defense & Personal Injury
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ALR Hearings in Texas

About the Texas DWI 15-Day Rule

Under state law, as soon as you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and either refused to submit to a breath or blood test or failed such a test, the clock begins ticking down to an automatic administrative suspension of your driver's license. This suspension will be imposed regardless of whether you win or lose the criminal driving while intoxicated (DWI) case, as it is an administrative action against you on the part of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). If you fail to take action to defend your license, your driving privileges will be suspended on the 40th day after the arrest. In order to prevent this outcome, you must contact the department within 15 days after the date of your arrest and request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing.

What Happens at a Houston ALR Hearing

The ALR hearing is presided over by an administrative law judge, a neutral presiding officer who acts as both judge and jury. The hearing is essentially the same as a trial, but the major difference is that the standard of proof is lower. Whereas a criminal conviction depends on proving the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the administrative hearing can result in a conviction based on just a preponderance of the evidence. It is, therefore, very often more difficult to win an administrative hearing, but that does not mean it is impossible. Even if you do not prevail, the ALR hearing is a crucial step in your defense, since it gives your McAllen criminal defense attorney the chance to review the evidence and learn more about the approach that the prosecutor will end up taking against you in the criminal trial. The administrative law judge will not issue a ruling at the time of the hearing, but instead you can expect to receive the decision within 60 days of the hearing.

Losing the ALR Hearing Isn't Always Bad

In the event that the arresting officer fails to appear at the hearing - a relatively common occurrence - the judge may dismiss the case. Although this is initially favorable since it allows you to keep your license until the criminal trial, it is not always the best possible outcome. The reason for this is that having the police officer appear at the hearing gives your attorney the chance to cross-examine him or her, which means that your lawyer could potentially uncover any type of law enforcement errors that could jeopardize the charges against you.

For example, it may be discovered that the officer did not have probable cause to pull you over - which would constitute a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights - or that the officer lacks sufficient understanding of the field sobriety tests to perform them correctly. For this reason, it is of great value to appear at the ALR hearing, even if it does not mean that you will keep your license.

Contact us at Guerra & Farah, PLLC for a free case evaluation to learn more about the ALR hearing process and to get started on your defense in Houston, El Paso, or McAllen!

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