Out of State DWI Suspension and Texas Driver's License Question

From an email:

I was arrested in 2005 while in the military in North Carolina for a DWI. My license is suspended in North Carolina but is it suspended in Texas?

Answer:

I assume you are living in Texas now?  Ever apply for a Texas DL?  Or are you just driving around hoping not to get pulled over?  (Not the best idea - by the way.)

Basically, if Texas DPS gives you a license, you're good.  Sounds like that's not the case though.  You may need to clear up any problems with NC - if your license is still suspended there - before you can get a Texas DL.

If your suspension period is up you may just have to pay a reinstatement fee to North Carolina, to get in compliance with their DMV.  Once that's done, under the interstate compact, you will probably be eligible for a regular license here.

If you aren't eligible for a 24/7 Texas driver's license, you may be able to get an occupational here in Texas.  That's a bit trickier, and not answerable without knowing more facts.

I don't know what part of Texas you're in, but you should find a DWI lawyer that practices in your (current) neck of the woods to help you with this.

'Occupational' Licenses for School in Texas DWI Cases

If a get a temporary suspension of my driver’s license in Texas can I get a permit for school? [from a recent Google query]

I’m not 100% sure what is meant by ‘a temporary suspension’ but let me piece this together if I can.

Sounds like the question may refer to being arrested for DWI in Texas, having your driver’s license confiscated (not returned after your release from jail) and being issued a piece of paper that says ‘Notice of Suspension’ and ‘Temporary Driver’s License’. 

The answer to the question, in that case is this: if you qualify for an occupational driver’s license, then your DWI lawyer should include in the petition that you be allowed to drive not only ‘to and from work’ (i.e., your occupation) but also ‘to and from school’. You will probably need to provide your attorney with some form of proof that you are in school, such as an official list of the classes that you are in this semester.

Your lawyer will then also need to know the hours that you will need to drive for classes, studying at the library, etc. The default amount of time to drive per day is usually 4 hours, but it’s not unusual to get an extension of that up to 12 hours a day, which is the statutory maximum.

DWI lawyers tend to refer to ‘occupational licenses’ and that is indeed their official name. But I prefer to call it an ‘essential needs’ license, because you can be granted the right to drive to work, school, church, groceries, etc. Everywhere you need to go. Just not everywhere you want to go 24/7.

DWI, Statute of Limitations and Driver's License Questions

Question: My wife and I were pulled over in August 2005 on a rural road approximately 5 miles from my house by DPS who at the time was going the other direction on a two lane road. 

We had been out seeing my wife’s favorite band and it was her night out.  He asked me if I know what we were pulled over for and I say no.  License plate light out!  So no big deal until he shines the light at my wife and says, “What’s wrong with her?”

"She's sleeping,” I say.  Well he asks where we have been and I'm truthful, her night out and I'm the designated driver.  He proceeds through the get out of the car deal, does the eye test, then the one leg to 30, then walk the line....then the finger count....no problem here.....

He goes and finally wakes up my wife and talks with her.  Well she's hammered of course.  Then he comes back and arrests me after I refuse the breathalyzer. 

Then he arrests her for public intoxication.  I convince him to let a friend come get her and the vehicle.  He does and takes me to the pokey.  Since then my lawyer has sent three letters to the court letting them know when he will be out of town.  The court has never sent anything to me at my home or office. 

Since it has been two years, can I stroll down to the DPS and get my license or will they snatch me up?  I appreciate any input. 

Reply: What county is this from?  Also, you are saying it has been almost two years from the arrest?  The ALR suspension would usually be over well before then.  (Unless there are priors, perhaps...do you have any prior DWI arrests? or prior alcohol related license suspensions?)

Follow Up: I had one prior when I was 20 and I was 35 when I got this one.  Yes two years since arrest in August.  It is in [Anonymous] County.  I got my license suspended for not taking the breathalizer. 

I haven't done anything since.  No license, [rest of sentence deleted]. But if I can go and get it without being harassed I would love to do so.

Reply: Well, the 15 year old DWI can now (unfortunately) be used to enhance your new DWI charge to a DWI 2nd.  It used to be the law that after 10 years, new DWI charges would be filed as Class B 'first offense' DWIs.  But that's no longer the case.

But ALR (pretrial Driver's License Suspensions arising out of the DWI arrest) only started in 1995, so you shouldn't have any enhanceable alcohol related contacts.  If there were prior DWI related license suspensions within the applicable time period, DPS would have sought a 2 year suspension.

I asked because based on your facts, it sounds like DPS probably sought a 180 day license suspension, which would have started either 40 days after the arrest, if you did not request a hearing to contest the suspension.  And if you, or your DWI lawyer did request the hearing within the first 15 days of the arrest, certainly the hearing would have happened and the 180 day suspension is probably up.  I know that would be the case for an Austin DWI arrest, but I am unfamiliar with practice and docketing in your neck of the woods.

If you got an occupational license during the original ALR refusal 180 day driver's license suspension, and filed it within the 30 day grace period with Texas DPS, then they would have made you pay the $125 reinstatement fee at that time.  That would mean your license was no longer suspended.

If you never filed an occupational, or never went to pay DPS the reinstatement fee, then that is still owed, and will be necessary to get your license back.

Sounds like you've got an attorney helping you on the DWI.  You probably need to contact him for more specific information.

One last note:  Looks like you found my DWI blog by searching for "Statute of limitations" and "DWI Texas".  You certainly need to find out from your current DWI attorney whether or not the State has filed a complaint and information officially charging you with the DWI at your local County Clerk's office.  If the full 2 years runs without them doing that, you should have a legal defense to being prosecuted for the DWI criminal charge.

DWI Occupational License: How Many Hours Can I Drive?

If your license is suspended through the ALR process for a DWI arrest in Texas, the default for occupational license driving time is four hours a day.

However, a judge has discretion to increase the time allowed to twelve hours a day. Likewise, a judge has the ability to reduce it below four hours a day…and in some jurisdictions, they do that quite frequently.

The number of hours you are granted will depend on how much you (or your DWI lawyer) can show the court you need to drive. It is, after all, an “essential needs” license.

In my experience, most judges in Austin understand that in today’s world people work various hours, have multiple jobs, use daycare and have child rearing responsibilities and other types of important commitments. If it is a first time DWI with no collision and no ‘aggravating’ factors, most of my Austin clients can provide me with the documentation I need to get a judge to increase the driving time from the four hour default rule all the way up to the twelve hour a day maximum.

No, an occupational license is not the same as your regular “24/7 drive anywhere anytime you want” license that you are used to. But it’s probably going to allow you to continue to do all the things you need to do.