I spent the morning at the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Dallas. SOAH is where all live Dallas ALR hearings are held. You can also request a telephone hearing. Ceteris paribus, I prefer a live hearing. A live cross examination contains more useful information than one by phone.
What is an ALR hearing?
ALR stands for Administrative License Revocation hearing. These hearings are triggered when you are arrested for DWI. Refusing, or failing a breath/blood test allows the State to suspend your license. If you request an ALR hearing your attorney can challenge the suspension and by association, your DWI arrest itself. These hearings are held separately from any criminal case. Winning at the ALR has no effect on a later criminal case.
YOU MUST REQUEST THIS HEARING WITHIN 15 DAYS OF BEING ARRESTED!!
The hearing notice lists 8:30AM as the start time. However, like many court proceedings 8:30 is more of an idea than a reality since many cases are all set at 8:30. While waiting in the lobby I overheard a few officer discussing the monotony of these hearings. “The lawyers ruined it” one officer remarked.
“Ruined what?” I thought. Is Due Process really such an inconvenience? This statement was telling about how the government views rights and liberty- as a frivolous impediment from the glorious work of DWI enforcement. TDCAA message boards echo this sentiment.
ALR hearings are not held in a courtroom. They are held in a small conference room at SOAH. These hearings are open to the public. Many people are surprised to learn that they can watch almost any court proceeding. I enjoy watching different lawyers approach the same problem.
I had an interesting case with some unique facts. However, I generally don’t blog about pending cases. I will say that at any ALR hearing the burden is on the State to prove that the defendant (respondent) was legally stopped and asked for a specimen, and the defendant refused or failed said request. I believe one of these elements was missing. Hopefully, the judge will agree.