Texas ALR: Administrative License Suspension Injustice
Did you know:
There is a grave injustice in punishing someone for exercising the right to refuse. This is what Texas calls its “implied consent” law for license suspensions. Under this law, Texas says a person is deemed to have consented to “the taking of one or more specimens of [their] breath or blood” after an arrest for DWI, DUI, or BWI. In other words, a refusal means absolutely nothing other than the length of suspension DPS issues. The statute does have a bit of a saving grace, though. The statute states that a person may consent to the taking of any other type of specimen. In other words, if the officer asks for blood, the person can say “no, but I will give breath” to the officer.
That DPS can suspend a license for refusal EVEN IF a person is completely sober?
When it comes to an ALR hearing for a ‘refusal’ case, there are 4 main issues:
- Whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to make the stop (or be on scene);
- Whether the officer had probable cause to believe a person is driving while intoxicated;
- If the officer made a request for breath or blood upon arrest; and
- Whether the person refused that request.
There is one notable absence: Whether the person was, in fact, intoxicated. Unlike with a hearing based on consent, a refusal hearing focuses solely upon the issues above. This means that even a toxicology result that shows no alcohol or other drugs means nothing to the administrative judge. The statute does not “require or empower the ALJ to decide the ultimate issue of whether [the person was] actually [driving] while intoxicated” according to Church v. State and Texas Department of Public Safety v. Butler. The statute requires only that the ALJ decide “whether probable cause exists to believe . . . [the person was driving] while intoxicated”.
In essence, an officer may arrest a person for DWI if he has enough “evidence” to believe intoxication is involved. On top of the normal “indicators” such as odor of alcohol and watery eyes, officers will use the unscientific SFSTs to test for impairment. Heck, they will even use statements like “I can’t even do that when sober” against people!
These are some examples of how ALRs are a complete injustice despite being “due process” before DPS suspends a person’s license. This is why, as hard as an ALR attorney works, the ALR hearings will almost always end in DPS’ favor. Further, with the complete injustice of revoking CDL privileges for a year (or life), ALR suspensions poorly serve our community.
More about Mimi Coffey
When people look for a Top DWI Attorney or Best DWI Attorney, they look for experience, certification, and respect in the legal community. Mimi Coffey is a nationally-renowned trial attorney, board-certified in DWI by the NCDD. She has been practicing for over 24 years and is an author of multiple DWI Defense textbooks. She is also a national and state-wide lecturer on the law.
Mimi is also listed on several “top” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant County, DWI Lawyer Dallas County, DWI Lawyer Collin County, DWI Lawyer in Johnson County and DWI Lawyer Parker County. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW, She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.