Question: What is ALR and do I need an attorney for an ALR?
Benson Varghese: An ALR is an administrative license revocation. Typically there’s a hearing that goes with that, so most people refer to ALR hearings. The reason an ALR comes up is when you are asked to provide a specimen of your breath or blood after you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated; there are two possibilities that could lead to a license suspension.
One is that you don’t provide a specimen. When an officer asks you, you simply say: "No, I don’t wish to provide a sample of my breath or blood." If you say no, your license will be suspended for a period of six months, or 180 days to be exact. If you provide a sample and the sample is over the legal limit of .08, your license will be suspended for three months or 90 days. The officer will inform you of this before you make your decision, and based on your decision and the result, the officer may, at that point—or later if it’s a blood result and they get the blood result later—send you a notice that says your license is being suspended. That notice will also tell you that you have 15 days to request a hearing on that license suspension. And that’s what we refer to as the administrative license revocation hearing.
It is administrative because the punishment is not criminal in nature. They’re trying to take your license; that’s purely administrative. You have 40 days to drive on that piece of paper that they give you, which states that your license is about to be suspended, but only 15 days to request a hearing. At the hearing, the Texas Department of Public Safety will have an attorney who has to prove a few things depending on the type of suspension you have. They might have to prove the reason for the stop, that there was probable cause for an arrest, that the sample was voluntary (if you gave a sample), and—if you did not give a sample—that you were read the warning informing you of the consequences of your decision. The state has a low burden at those hearings and it’s just a preponderance of evidence. If you don’t have an attorney, and if you don’t subpoena witnesses to this hearing, the DPS will often win—almost by default. The best thing you can do at an ALR hearing is to have an attorney, subpoena witnesses to be there, and make the state (or the DPS in this situation) prove their case. If you don’t take those steps, your license will automatically be revoked.