Houston, TX ALR Hearings
Understanding Administrative License Revocation Hearings
While getting a DWI is something you’ll generally want to avoid at all costs, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are being charged with driving while intoxicated, an ALR hearing is a crucial step that may help you fight the charges if you were falsely accused, or if proper protocols during the investigation were not followed. ALR hearings, or Administrative License Revocation hearings, is a process that includes suspended license hearings in which the accused can contest the suspension of a drivers license due to a DWI charge or arrest. This process is separate from the criminal hearing and proceedings for the DWI charge. ALR hearings are for the most part exclusive to Texas.
Benefits of Requesting a Houston ALR Hearing
There are a few benefits of requesting an ALR hearing, though you must request one within 15 days after your arrest, or else your right to an ALR hearing will be waived and your license will be suspended for 40 days from the date of arrest. It is important to note that while you can try to file the request yourself, to ensure the request is submitted within those first 15 days it is highly recommended that you hire an aggressive DWI attorney for ALR hearings to handle the request for you.
The ALR hearing has two main benefits.
First, your license will not be suspended until the Administrative Law Judge hears your case. Once the ALJ makes a ruling on the ALR hearing, either they will determine the DWI was legitimate and proceedings will continue as normal, or due to improper procedure or other circumstances, the license will not be suspended.
The second benefit is that your attorney will be able to ask the involved officers about the arrest on the record, and due to the more informal nature of ALR hearings, the officers likely will offer more information than they would normally in the criminal trial. It is important to note what while some criminal cases for DWI have been dismissed on the basis of the result of the ALR hearings, these are two separate hearings and a favorable ALR hearing does not guarantee the criminal charges will also be dropped.
The DWI (Criminal Case) Can Be Affected
The questioning of the officer under oath at the hearing can provide very useful information for the upcoming criminal proceeding as well. First, the officer’s statement in the ALR hearing can be used in the criminal hearing. If the officer changes his story, or can not remember specific details of the arrest, his statement from the ALR hearing can be used in order to either discount his testimony or refresh his recollection. Second, the testimony allows some insight as to what evidence the prosecution might have against you in the criminal proceedings, and can help your attorney strategize for the criminal hearing. The state is required to provide the evidence they have against you that will benefit them in the criminal prosecution when in the ALR hearing. This also allows your attorney time to perform further investigation regarding the evidence.
State of Texas V. Montgomery
For example, in State v. Montgomery (1998), Montgomery was charged with a DWI after being stopped while exiting a nightclub. After further investigation of testimony during the ALR hearing, it was found that the stop was made without any probably cause or suspicion, and a motion was made to suppress all evidence and testimony gained as a result of the stop, as the evidence was gained due to an illegal stop, arrest and detention. The DPS attempted to continue suit for the criminal charges, but as the evidence proving as such was suppressed and no longer valid, the case was made that continued pursuit of the criminal charges in light of this would be denial of due process and subject to double jeopardy, or being brought to trial for a crime in which one was already proven innocent of. The judge agreed with this motion and dismissed the case.
In order for your license to be suspended in an ALR hearing, it must be proven that the DWI stop and arrest was valid according to the preponderance of evidence. The standards for this are generally much lower than for the criminal portion of the DWI proceedings as well. If DPS, the prosecuting agent in ALR hearings, is unable to validate that the DWI stop was done with just cause, or was performed properly, it is possible for your license to not be suspended. If the facts show that the stop was in fact valid, your license can be suspended anywhere between 90 days and 2 years.
While the case of State v. Montgomery ended up dismissing both the DWI suspension as well as the criminal charges, the results of these hearings are separate, and very heavily depend on the facts of the case. You should never assume the ALR case dismissal will result in the dismissal of the criminal proceedings, and always hire a DWI attorney.