License Suspension & ALR Hearing

My internet stats program for this blog – Mint – keeps track of IP addresses associated with various searches as well as other interesting (if you’re a geek) tidbits of information. Tonight I saw the following string of searches, which started five weeks ago:

How long does a DWI case take in Travis County?

Of course the answer to this question, like all of those that don’t provide enough information to properly answer, is… it depends. But let me see if I can do better than that anyway. The discovery process – getting the video, offense report, intoxilyzer records if it’s a breath test case, and sitting down at least once to substantively chat with a prosecutor about your case? – will take at least three to four months, sometimes longer.

Several more uncontested settings and at least one contested pretrial setting on a motion to suppress can be several more months, depending primarily on availability of the officer and your lawyer’s schedule.

How long will you be on the jury docket if you don’t work out a plea? I talked to a client earlier today and his case is a year and half old. We are just now bubbling to the top of the jury docket in that court. (I’d say that’s a little unusual, but it’s by no means record-setting either.)

Next search, some time later, same IP:

Travis County DWI No Contest

Can’t tell if this is part of a “do I have to hire a lawyer” stage. Since the first search is only five weeks ago, it seems a tad early to be hearing this from your lawyer, but who knows? Maybe it’s just ‘background’ research on what happens. Next query:

Transcripts of ALR hearings

Seems like something a lawyer might Google if they were trying to learn some good cross examination questions. Or maybe the client wants to know how much something like that might cost. Next search, a little later still:

What if officer does not appear at ALR hearing?

A lawyer would know the answer – I hope – to this one, so maybe this really is a defendant trying to figure out how things work. Assuming the officer has been properly subpoenaed, and DPS doesn’t have ‘good cause’ for his absence, it should be dismissed. (But don’t hold your breath – I’ve objected to and been overruled on some pretty flimsy ‘good cause’ issues at SOAH.)

What if my attorney did not get an ALR hearing?

Well now things have taken a turn for the worse. The next search/same IP provides us some insight into the mystery:

My attorney did not request ALR because I passed breath test did not take a blood test

“I see,” said the blind man. I think I’ve figured this out. You told your lawyer that you passed the breath test – blew under .08 – and I hope for your sake that you told him about the blood test part.

Was your license confiscated? Did they ask for blood after you passed the breath test? If you refused the second test, they may have issued the DIC paperwork and started the license suspension process. Including that 15 day period you’ve been reading about – at least since you started doing your own internet research.

I think it’s good advice for the lawyer to request an ALR in every case, including when the potential client comes in and says, “I passed the test”. First, I’ve had cases where clients told me, “They said I blew .07”, but we find out later there was some confusion about the “.0” part. (i.e., “.17”)

Second, if DIC paperwork was issued, it has to be done. DPS is basically just a big bunch of computers. There are humans too, of course, but by and large they are there to correct the computer errors. Some clerk receives a Notice of Suspension from a police agency, enters the info, and that 15 day time limit starts ticking.

Third, DPS considers passing the breath test but refusing the next round of blood tests to actually be a refusal. And more importantly, back to point number two, if the computers were fed the information about the notice of suspension, and you/your lawyer didn’t do anything then the “Automatic” License Revocation kicked in.

Something like this came up recently – although I can’t find the email so the details might have differed – on either the Texas criminal defense lawyer listserv or the Texas DWI defender listserv, and Houston DWI lawyer Troy McKinney properly referred the questioner to Texas Transportation Code 524.012:

(c) The department may not suspend a person’s driver’s license if:

(1) the person is an adult and the analysis of the person’s breath or blood specimen determined that the person had an alcohol concentration of a level below that specified by Section 49.01(2)(B), Penal Code, at the time the specimen was taken;

Unfortunately section (d) continues:

(d) A determination under this section is final unless a hearing is requested under Section 524.031

So it’s a moot point without the request. Sounds like your lawyer woulda, coulda, shoulda… Or maybe I’m missing something, who knows?

Continue Reading Questions: One Always Seems to Lead to Another

There are certain boring yet inevitable questions that often begin an examination of a police officer in a DWI (by a prosecutor) or an administrative license revocation ALR case (by a defense attorney):

  • State your name for the record please…
  • You’re employed by Austin Police Department?
  • Any prior law enforcement experience?

 A defense lawyer usually

If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, chances are that your Driver’s License was confiscated before you were released from jail. In that case, you should also have been given several other pieces of paperwork, including a form called the DIC-25.

The DIC-25 is titled “Notice of Suspension” and “Temporary Driving Permit”. Your license is

Texas law allows a person arrested for DWI to request an ALR hearing “in person” or “by phone”. Is it better to conduct an administrative license revocation hearing live/in person or by telephone?

The best practice is to request a conduct a live/in person hearing. Honestly, I can think of no exceptions to this rule.

There are