What Happens To My Driver’s License In A Dwi Arrest?
In Texas when an individual is arrested for a charge of DWI, there are two types of separate and distinct proceedings that take place with every DWI case, one that is civil in nature, and the other is criminal. Each is considered a different matter and is handled by separate government bodies. The two overlap to a large extent, but also have very different and distinct meanings and are in totally separate contexts. Regardless, it can be very helpful if it has been less than 10 days since your arrest, you can report your license as lost and have a new one sent to you before your arrest is reported. There is no law against this and it makes it much easier when you need to have a photo ID. Otherwise, a separate photo ID can be issued.
Understanding the Types of Texas DWI Proceedings: Criminal v. Civil
In Texas, there are two types of proceedings that come into effect with every DWI case usually no matter what the facts are. While you may expect to face criminal charges, you may not realize that there is a second case against you when you’re arrested for DWI in Texas. The matter is a civil proceeding, as opposed to criminal, so there is no jail time or fine involved. Instead, the ALR is a penalty against your driving privileges. Each is considered a different matter and is handled by separate government bodies.
The first and perhaps more concerning and possibly severe is the criminal charge of Driving While Intoxicated that will be held in the county courthouse that corresponds with whatever city your arrest took place. The second proceeding is entirely civil in nature, and is handled by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and is everything concerning your driver’s license. This proceeding if properly requested is the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) portion of the case. This is also the portion that relates to the “DIC” warnings that should have been read to the arrested person after the arrest.
These different proceedings can be confusing and intimidating, in that and the administrative portion of the case mainly is about your driver’s license and if a formal suspension will result, while the criminal portion is the actual DWI charge, and can obviously have more steep and severe consequences because in all DWI cases jail time is always a possibility.
- Criminal Phase – Being arrested for DWI results in criminal charges, including different degrees of misdemeanor and felony. The nature of the criminal charges depends upon whether you’ve been convicted of other DWI-related offenses in the past. The matter proceeds before a criminal court and penalties are assessed. Being arrested for a charge of DWI in Texas is a criminal offense, and the degree and classification depends upon several factors that will dictate the potential range of punishment overall, and will accordingly dictate how the offense will be categorized and the degree of offense, of which it could be either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. The nature and severity of a Texas DWI charge also depend on if a person has been previously convicted of other DWI-related offenses in the past. If a person has prior convictions for a DWI charge it will enhance the range of punishment to a higher classification level.
- Civil Phase: Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Proceeding – The “ALR” is the civil portion of the case whereby if a person is arrested for a DWI, their license will be suspended automatically, unless they take action to contest the matter, if either 1) breath or blood test indicates that your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) level was a .08 (or above); or if 2) it was deemed to be a refusal and the person did not give their voluntary consent to submit to a breath or blood test when requested. In Texas, the “ALR” (the administrative license revocation” portion) concerns only your driver’s license and your ability and privilege to legally drive. While it may seem obvious that one has a pending criminal charge for a DWI after the arrest, often many overlook and simply do not realize that there is a second portion of the case that is entirely civil in nature and has to be handled in a separate fashion. Accordingly, because each is very distinct and different from the other, the rules governing the proceedings are also significantly different, and defending each is different and unique. This is due to how with each both the rules and law are not the same because they are in separate courts with different jurisdictional authority, and even the prosecutors who represent the State of Texas are not the same, one employed by the County and the other by Texas as an attorney for DPS. In most cases, each usually does not have any bearing on the other are most independent in how they are handled. However, because this phase is civil in nature, as opposed to criminal, there is no jail time, community supervision, or court-imposed fines that could potentially result.
In either scenario, failure or refusal, your license will be suspended for a length of time automatically unless you timely request a hearing. As such, it is very important to know and fully understand the deadlines and the implications imposed by the ALR proceedings. This notice is usually given at the jail when you were arrested. The notice is contained in the DIC paperwork outlined in the DIC-25 “Notice of Suspension” paperwork. One thing to place importance on is recognizing and understanding how the Texas license suspension will take effect if you do not file a request for an ALR hearing within 15 days, or from whenever the notice of suspension was received. When a person refuses a breath or blood test or tests above a 0.08, their license will almost always be taken and they will give them a temporary driving permit and for legal purposes, that is a person’s driver’s license. If you’re given that temporary driving permit, it is to be used as a temporary driving license. However, this will be suspended and revoked unless you request an ALR hearing within 15 days. If one does not make this request within the required time period, the suspension will be official and become effective 40 days after the date of the arrest.
A person’s driving privileges are not suspended on the day they were charged with the DWI, but the suspension is ultimately automatic in nature and will begin 41 days from the date the individual was served notice of the suspension. However, this deadline becomes moot if one timely requests a hearing on the matter through DPS within 15 days after the DWI arrest. This process is the mechanism where one can contest and present any relevant defenses to challenge the findings and the suspension of any possible driver’s license privileges. Once the hearing is requested, done properly and before the statutory deadline, it effectively will stay and put on hold any further possible suspensions or revocation actions concerning a person’s driving license until the hearing is held and a ruling is made.
However, regardless of whether you request a hearing or not, you are legally able to drive during the interim period using what should have been given to you upon release from jail, titled “Temporary Driving Permit,” or the “DIC-25”, and this paperwork will effectively replace your physical driver’s license until your full driving privileges are restored at some point in the future. The “ALR” civil portion as a result from the mere arrest for DWI, Texas through DPS will attempt to prevail even if a hearing is requested, and has the authority to order the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for a minimum of six months and possibly up to two years if you refused to submit to a chemical specimen. If you can consent and give a voluntary sample of your chemical specimen, either with a breath or blood test, and it is determined to be at a BAC level of 0.08% or more, the period of suspension is 90 days. However, these periods increase if an individual has had a prior suspension within the last 10 years, which can result in DPS seeking to suspend for an enhanced suspension of driving privileges for a period from one to two years. The only way to prevent the automatic driver’s license suspension is to request an administrative hearing within 15 days from the date of service of the notice. If this hearing is not requested within this 15-day period, there is nothing that can be done in order to possibly pre vent some period of a license suspension.
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