Perhaps one of the reasons Driving While Impaired (DWI) is handled so seriously in Texas is because 2,000 people a year die from alcohol related accidents. Texas is at the forefront in the nation for alcohol related accidents and deaths.
When a driver is pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the driver has rights and may refuse a breath test which tests their blood alcohol content (BAC). However, upon refusal of the breath test the drivers' license will most likely be immediately suspended for 6 months in addition to the consequences of a conviction.
If a person is of the legal drinking age (21 years of age or older) and has a BAC of.08% or lower than they are within the legal limits. However, if it is any higher than.08% the driver may be convicted. Otherwise, anyone under the legal drinking age with a BAC of.01% or more will automatically be convicted of a crime and have penalties to deal with.
Penalties Upon a DWI Conviction
Different lengths of suspension depend on how many times you have been convicted and how old you are. If a person is 21 years of age or older and convicted of a DWI their license can be suspended for anywhere between 90 days to two years depending on whether it is their first, second, or third offense.
If anyone under the age of 21 is caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system they are required to adhere to a series of consequences in accordance with the Texas' "zero tolerance" policy of underage drinking. A sixty day license suspension is part of these consequences in Texas.
There are also ways to have occupational licenses granted during suspensions.
The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Process
If arrested with a DWI you have 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. You must submit this request within 15 days of your arrest or your license will automatically be suspended. The ALR process is a separate administrative process from the criminal case of your DWI and is designed to determine whether you have the ability to continue to drive. Both your criminal case and the ALR process occur concurrently and may be handled by the same lawyer if you choose to have representation. Some lawyers have been able to get hearings no earlier than 90 days and it has taken them as long as 6 months to get hearings for their clients.
Other Causes for License Suspension
While DWI's are one of the leading causes of accidents in Texas they are not the only reason one can have their license suspended. Here are some other reasons a driver may have their license suspended.
- Driving with a suspended or invalid license
- Driving with too many traffic violations
- Involved in an accident while uninsured
- Failure to pay child support
There are other factors that are unique to every situation. This information is meant only as a guide to help you with general information.