Winning the ALR hearing isn’t always good

I’m on an ALR win streak. My last three hearings have resulted in a victory for my client. (ALR hearings are when the state moves to suspend your license for a DWI arrest).

I know these clients appreciated not having their license suspended. However, two of the victories were dismissals because the arresting officer failed to appear. That is still a victory, but only in the short term. (The other was because the State couldn’t prove my client refused to provide a specimen). When the officer fails to appear my client gets a short term benefit (no DL suspensions) but still faces long term problems (the criminal DWI charge).

I tell my clients that it can be better to lose the ALR hearing if I get to cross examine the arresting officer. Many of the best results I have got in a DWI case (dismissals, obstructions etc) resulted directly from ALR testimony. The DWI offense report contains one set of facts. An officer’s memory can, and often is, completely different.

On a side note- The State’s ALR attorney is now required to write down exactly what time the police officers arrive and leave the hearing. I was informed this is a survey on the time requirements of ALR hearings. I’m certain that whatever “problems” this survey uncovers will have one solution; make ALR hearings “more efficient” and even easier for the state to win (i.e.-allowing affidavits without live witnesses).

Why should we care if ALR hearings require some officer time? We allow this implied consent nonsense as a civil suit end run around protections for criminal defendants. The state is trying to take away your ability to drive. In a strip mall, tollway, limited public transportation, exurb-commuting state like Texas that is no small detriment. Requiring law enforcement to show up for a 15 minute ALR cross examination is the least we should do.

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