Making Sense of Driver’s License Suspensions in Texas
A motorist arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Texas will confront not one, but two attempts by the state to suspend his driver’s license. One is considered a civil penalty for violating Texas’ Implied Consent statute and the other is a criminal penalty for being convicted of DWI. These are the hidden consequences of DWI in Texas.
When a motorist is stopped on suspicion of DWI he will be “asked” to blow into the state’s breath test machine. Unbeknownst to most drivers, when you receive your driver’s license you are obligated to provide a breath specimen upon request. The penalty for refusing to blow is a license suspension of up to 180 days. Should the motorist decide to blow and has an alcohol concentration of.08 or higher, his license will be suspended for up to 90 days. The penalties are doubled if there was a prior “alcohol-related contact” within the ten years prior to the arrest.
This is the civil suspension, also known as an administrative license revocation, and a motorist has the right to a hearing to contest the suspension.
The motorist has 15 days from the date of his arrest to file a written request with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for a hearing to contest the suspension. Once that request is received the suspension is stayed until a hearing is held to determine whether the DPS can prove the motorist either refused to blow or blew too high.
If the administrative law estimate orders a suspension, the motorist may apply for an occupational driver’s license with the county court in either the county in which he resides or the county in which he was arrested. In deciding which jurisdiction to apply for the occupational license you need to be aware of what each court requires an applicant to do in order to acquire a license. A meaningful consideration is whether the court places an “expiration date” on the order. If the order is good indefinitely then there will be no reason to apply for a license should a conviction be entered on the criminal case; if, however, the order expires at the end of the civil suspension, it will be necessary to apply for another license upon a conviction.
Should a motorist plead guilty or be adjudged guilty of driving while intoxicated, his privilege to excursion may be suspended for between 90 days and one year. A second conviction can rule to a suspension of between 180 days and two years, or between one and two years if the prior conviction is less than five years old. This is the criminal sanction, sometimes referred to as a conviction suspension. Should the motorist be placed on probation, or community supervision, the license suspension may be probated in addition.
In the event of a license suspension as the consequence of a DWI conviction, the motorist may request an occupational driver’s license from the court that issued the conviction. In some situations this may be done the same day.
Knowing the rules on license suspensions is crucial in making an informed decision on how to dispose of a DWI case.