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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Houston DWI lawyer - Can your driver's license be suspended for a DWI?

Houston DWI lawyer - Can your driver's license be suspended for a DWI?

The short answer is yes. But there are ways to fight it and ways around it.

Howdy! We're going to be going over if your driver's license can be suspended for a DWI case in Houston, Texas. I am Houston DWI lawyer Brian Foley, and my partner is Luis Baez


The first thing we want to talk about in DWI and license suspension is that there are two types of cases. When you get arrested for a DWI, you really get prosecuted twice. First, you get prosecuted for the DWI in the county court. If it's a misdemeanor, it's in a felony court. It'll be a district court, but if it's a DWI first, your first time being arrested, then it's going to be a misdemeanor Class B. That whole case runs separately to your driver's license case.

Your driver's license case gets prosecuted in a DPS Court, an administrative court, and you can contest that in something called an ALR hearing. But there are two different types of suspensions at the beginning of a case that can occur. The first would be a refusal suspension. I'd call the other one a failure suspension, and this is all related to breath and blood tests.

Technically, they can ask for a urine test. I've never seen that, but they do most often ask for breath tests or blood tests, and there's a special part of the transportation code when you get your driver's license. It says that you are going to consent to getting a breath or a blood test if a police officer asks you for one because you get arrested for DWI. If you don't consent to a breath test or a blood test, they call that a refusal, and if an ALR or a DPS prosecutor at this ALR hearing proves that you were arrested for DWI, there was reasonable suspicion to pull you over, and probable cause to arrest you for DWI, and then you refuse to provide a sample, then they can generate a suspension, typically 90 days, and that suspension will go into effect at the beginning of the case before you are even found guilty of DWI, and it can stop you from driving your vehicle.

There's also a failure suspension. So let's say you consent to a breath test. Okay, on the day that it happens, they bring you back to the jail, they have a machine called the Intoxilizer 9000, and you consent to doing a breath test. Well, if you do that, then they may get a result. If you get a result that's over the limit of .08, then they're going to suspend your license. At the same process, you have a chance to contest it, but they call that a failure suspension. You've got above a .08.

And in either case, whether it's a refusal suspension or a failure suspension, you have got 15 days from the day that you're arrested, and they submit a form called the DIC-24. You've got 15 days to request your ALR hearing. If you consent to a breath or a blood sample, let's say more likely a blood sample because the breath sample, they're going to know whether you pass or fail right away, but if you consent to a blood sample, they won't know that result for some time. So the 15-day waiting period doesn't start until after the result showing a higher than a .08 concentration has been reached. Then you're going to get a letter in the mail, and we typically tell our clients when you're arrested for DWI, if you consented to the blood sample, you should make sure that the Department of Public Safety has your correct mailing address. This is because they're going to mail you a letter that says your blood came back over the limit. When they mail you that letter, you'll have 20 days from the day they mail that letter to respond and ask for your ALR hearing instead of the 15 days. So we have a little more time in cases like that, but it's not a whole lot of time, so we try to get on top of those things pretty quickly.

So what happens at these ALR hearings? They are a hearing where we can subpoena the police officer, we can subpoena records and video, and they'll have to provide those things to us early in the case. We could cross-examine a police officer, maybe get him to admit he did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over. There's a lot of things we can do at these hearings, but sometimes it makes sense for us to not actually go through with that hearing but just to go ahead and get you an occupational driver's license. Sometimes we can get an occupational driver's license without having to get an interlock device. The interlock device is that thing that you blow into that tells the car that you haven't been drinking, and it won't allow you to turn the car on if it detects alcohol in your breath. So sometimes to avoid that interlock device, we will get an occupational license and we'll waive the ALR hearing. That is only for a refusal or a failure suspension or an ALR suspension. If you have a conviction suspension because we worked out your case in a way where maybe you just paid a fine, maybe you got credit for the time you served in jail, you didn't want to be on probation or anything like that, well if that's the case, you may get what's called a conviction suspension even on a DWI first, and we would need to get you an occupational license that requires the interlock device anyway.

So there's a lot of ins and outs to this stuff. If you've got a question about DWI or license suspensions, give us a call. We'd love to hear from you, and we'll give you a free consultation to see if we can help. Thanks so much.

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