When I first started DWI defense lawyering blood draws were pretty rare in DWI cases, but today they are becoming more common with the “no refusal” weekends etc. This has caused some problems as far the ALR/driver license suspensions are concerned. How does a blood draw affect your drivers license? Let’s take a look.
When Texas set up the ALR hearing system to suspend drivers licenses after DWI arrests they had breath tests in mind. That is, the State would know the bac result from the breath test at the time the defendant was arrested, so if the defendant failed, then the cops would notify DPS to suspend their license.
The law in Texas states that after being arrested you have 15 days to call DPS and ask for an ALR hearing to challenge your license suspension. If you don’t request a hearing, then your license will be suspended after 40 days (from the date of arrest). If you do request a hearing within 15 days your license is good until the hearing and then only if the judge rules against you (which usually happens, the ALR game is rigged so that DPS usually wins, because tuff on crime).
With a blood test we don’t know the result right away, and we may not know the result for months. DPS is backlogged with blood cases, and their labs aren’t not for quality work so rushing them will only make it worse. DPS can only try to suspend your license if you are over .08. So when our firm requests an ALR hearing on a blood case we usually get a letter back stating there is no case against our client. Why? Because they don’t have the blood results in.
Once DPS gets the blood result in and decides to suspend a suspect’s license, they send the notice to the suspect, not to the lawyer. Why? Because they are hoping that a DWI suspect will throw the notice in the trash, and they know that our firm will request a hearing to fight the suspension.
DPS should not be sending notice to individuals who have legal counsel. My firm does not contact individuals when we know they are represented by counsel, it’s unethical. But the usual ethical rules don’t constrain DPS, they make a lot of money suspending licenses, so if they need to cheat to win, they will.
So, if the cops took your blood and you hired a DWI lawyer check your mail for letters from DPS. If you receive notice that DPS is moving forward with a license suspension notify you must immediately contact your lawyer. The letter won’t look like anything special, so be vigilant and don’t be a victim of DPS blood draw ALR scheme.