Can the ALR hearing affect my criminal case?

The ALR hearing is completely separate from your criminal case. The outcome of one will not affect the outcome or status of the other.

However, if the officer testifies at the license hearing, his testimony cannot change when he shows up later to testify at your criminal trial. Sometimes this can be problematic for an officer who testifies to one fact/ opinion at the license hearing, and then his answers change at the criminal trial.

For example, an officer testifies at the license hearing that he smelled a slight odor of alcohol on someone’s breath after they exited their vehicle. Then, several months later at the person’s criminal trial, the officer testifies that he smelled a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage as soon as he approached the car.

If your attorney is well prepared, he can use this conflicting testimony to show the jury the officer might have credibility issues in the case.

What is a Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing?

The ALR hearing is a civil proceeding which allows you to fight the suspension of your driver’s license. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request a driver’s license hearing; this request is sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TX DPS).

Often times the officer tells those being detained for DWI that if they take the breath test, they will not lose their license. This notion is slightly misleading. It is true that if you refuse to give a specimen of your breath or blood, the officer can take your driver’s license from you. However, the same is true if you FAIL a breath or blood test. Therefore, even if you consent to giving a specimen of your breath or blood, TX DPS can still try and suspend your license if the result is a .08 or higher.

Once a person requests the ALR hearing, the TX DPS will have to prove their case against you. First, they will have to prove that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you, and probable cause to arrest you. If the Department cannot meet this burden, then you win the hearing.

The TX DPS must also prove that you either REFUSED to take a breath or blood test, or you consented to a breath or blood sample and your BAC was a .08 or higher.

First, the ALR is important for your case first and foremost for potentially keeping your license from being suspended.

Second, an ALR can be valuable as a discovery tool by eliciting testimony from the arresting officer if he or she is subpoenaed, and shows up to testify at the hearing. This allows an attorney to question the officer, under oath, prior to cross examination of the same officer at your criminal trial.

If the officer does not show up to the ALR hearing, a person wins by default. When the officer does show up, it is important to have an experienced DWI lawyer to ask the right questions of the officer.

Am I allowed to drive after being arrested for a DWI?

If your license was not suspended prior to being pulled over, your license should not be suspended automatically just because you were arrested for a DWI. A person has 15 days from the date of their arrest to request a hearing on the suspension on their driver’s license.

The request is sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Once a hearing is properly requested, The Texas Department of Public Safety will provide you with a hearing date to fight the suspension of your driver’s license.

A person is able to drive up to the time of the hearing, and if the Department cannot prove the required elements a person’s license will not be suspended as a civil matter from this incident. Read more about the license hearing here.

What should I expect on first day of DWI court?

This varies by county. In most counties, the first court date is simply to determine whether you have or plan to hire an attorney. If you have an attorney, they will sign on to your case, collect any evidence that has been submitted to the state, and reset your case to a later date.

Usually this is the lowest stress of all of your court dates (even though you may not feel it at the time). Court usually begins by “calling docket.” This can be compared to taking attendance during grade school.

  • The best way to reduce your stress-
  • Hire a knowledgeable attorney to represent you
  • BE ON TIME

Dress appropriately. You don’t need to wear a suit, but wearing business casual attire will show the court staff and judge that you take the charges against you seriously.

I realize attire or being on time might seem small in the grand scheme of the charges you face, but this is your first impression in front of the judge. It matters.

Should I hire a DWI attorney in my county?

This is such an important question. There can be pros and cons of hiring an attorney from the county of your pending case.

My best advice would be to ask each attorney the following questions:
How well do they know the county?
How often do they practice there?
Are they familiar with the judge, and do they know how the judge rules and feels on particular legal issues?
Do they know the prosecutors?
Do they take court appointments in that court?

There are two important ideas to consider-

Often, you want a lawyer who is familiar with the judge and prosecutors in your case, so he/she knows how the judge will likely rule on certain legal issues and how the prosecutor will usually craft and present their case. Therefore, your attorney can construct and provide a well researched and prepared defense strategy.

Also, it is important to ask about an attorney’s court appointments. I have found that often when attorney’s take court appointments from the court, they feel more pressure to “settle” or plea cases in fear they will not be appointed more cases in the future from that court.

As Cannon Law does not accept any court appointed cases, these outside monetary influences and circumstances do not affect any case strategies and legal defenses. The Cannon Law goal is simple, fight for you no matter what. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Is a DWI a misdemeanor or felony?

In most circumstances, a first or second DWI is a class B or class A misdemeanor. (See more punishment details here)

A DWI can be charged as a felony under some circumstances, for example-

  • When there is an accident involving serious bodily injury, you could be charged with Intoxication Assault
  • When there is an accident involving the death of another person, you could be charged with Intoxication Manslaughter
  • If you have plead or been found guilty in two prior instances, you can be charged with a felony Third DWI
  • If you were arrested for DWI with a child passenger, you can be charged with a felony.

Contact Cannon Law today so we can help you learn more about your case.

What does intoxication mean in a DWI case?

The most common element disputed in a DWI trial is legal intoxication.

The state must prove one of three things to establish a person is legally intoxicated. To summarize-

  1. A person lost the normal use of their mental faculties due to the introduction of drugs or alcoholOR
  2. A person lost the normal use of their physical faculties due to the introduction of alcoholOR
  3. A person has a blood alcohol concentration of a .08 or higher at the time of driving

What does it mean for a person to lose their normal physical or mental faculties? This is extremely subjective. For example:

The average person being pulled over for a DWI test would likely not perform a balancing test as well as Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles might perform the same exact test which is being used to determine one’s physical faculties.

Moreover, a person who is dealing with stress in their personal life from a divorce, work, or health issues may not exhibit the same mental faculties as they normally would, even if they have not consumed any alcohol.

Finally, it is not enough for the prosecutor to produce a breath or blood test at or above a .08, alone. This result must be found to be reliable beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, they must prove that a person’s results were a .08 or higher at the time a person was driving. Often the “at the time of driving” requirement can be difficult for the state to prove if the defense attorney has the proper knowledge and training in the science of retrograde extrapolation.

Simply put, a high BAC does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty of a DWI. It is important to hire a knowledgeable DWI attorney who is experienced in this area, and can show a jury or judge the potential issues involved with the testing methods currently used by the government in DWI cases.

Difference between a DUI and DWI in Texas

In Texas, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge applies only to minors. A minor is not permitted to have any deductible amount of alcohol in their system. Therefore, a minor does not have to be legally intoxicated to be charged with a DUI. A DUI conviction can carry a penalty of up to $500 fine, a 60-day suspension of ones driver’s license, community service requirements, and mandatory alcohol-awareness classes.

However, a minor can still be charged with a DWI, if they are legally intoxicated. (See definition for legal intoxication here). A DWI will carry the possibility of higher fines, stricter punishment, and potential jail time. (See the punishment rules for Driving While Intoxicated here).

How long does a DWI case take?

This answer depends on a few different factors: police agency, breath or blood test, and the court a person is assigned. Typically speaking, the only people who have their case resolved “quickly” are simply pleading guilty and accepting the state’s generic plea offer. Evidence can take time to trickle in piece by piece- police reports, accident reports, blood results, videos etc.

On average in Houston and surrounding areas it would take 6 months to one year to fight a DWI case the proper way.

Some police agencies can take longer to submit their reports and videos to the DA’s office and defense counsel. Other agencies submit their report and finding instantaneously.

Breath test cases tend to move a little quicker than blood cases because the breath result is established on the night of the arrest. Blood labs can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to submit their results to the district attorney’s office and defense counsel.

Finally, the court a person is assigned to can also affect the time it takes to properly fight their case. Some court’s have busier trial dockets than others at varying times throughout the year.

Cannon Law promises not to drag your case out any longer than necessary. It is our goal to achieve the most desirable result for you, in the shortest amount of time necessary to aggressively fight your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Do I need to tell my employer I was arrested for a DWI?

It depends. Different companies have different rules regarding DWI arrests and convictions. Many employment contracts lay out the guidelines and rules surrounding this issue. Pay special attention to the wording your company uses. There is a big difference between being ARRESTED for a DWI, and being CONVICTED of a DWI.

If your company asks you to report any misdemeanor CONVICTIONS other than traffic tickets/moving violations, then you would likely not have to report the arrest. Many companies allow you to wait until you have plead guilty, or were found guilty of the crime you have been charged with. (Innocence until Proven Guilty)

If your company asks if you have been ARRESTED for or CHARGED with any misdemeanor or felony charges, then you would likely need to report the incident to your company, and let them know you have hired a highly respected firm, and fully intend to fight your case.

Cannon Law can help you decipher whether or not you need to report your situation to your employer. Contact Cannon Law now for a free consultation.