Guide for Self-Represented Litigants in Administrative License Revocation Cases
This is a guide for people involved in an Administrative License Revocation, or ALR, case at the State Office of Administrative Hearings who do not have a lawyer for their hearing. When you don’t have a lawyer, you are said to be representing yourself. In this guide, people who represent themselves are called “self-represented litigants.” There are responsibilities and risks in representing yourself. The State Office of Administrative Hearings, or SOAH, encourages everyone who represents himself or herself to think carefully about the risks, responsibilities, and potential consequences.
If you represent yourself, you must follow SOAH’s procedures for ALR cases. This guide will help you understand how to do that. Although SOAH staff may give you general information about rules and procedures, they cannot give you legal advice, help you interpret or apply rules, or otherwise participate in a hearing.
This guide is intended to provide general information. It is not legal advice, and it’s not possible to cover every situation that might arise. Also, if there is any conflict between this guide and the applicable laws or rules, those laws or rules control.
Contact Information for the Department of Public Safety:
ALR Hearings: 512-424-2600
Suspensions and Fees: 512-424-2600
DPS Customer Service Center: 512-424-2600 and the following link to the DPS Driver's License webpage.
SOAH’s procedural rules for ALR hearings are available on the Secretary of State's website.
If you were arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Boating While Intoxicated, or Driving Under the Influence as a minor, and you failed or refused a breath or blood test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for a certain period of time unless you request an ALR hearing to challenge that suspension. The ALR hearing is your opportunity to object to the automatic suspension of your license.
The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge employed by the State Office of Administrative Hearings, or SOAH.
This SOAH ALR hearing is not affected by any action in the criminal case, including a dismissal, with only one exception. If a trial is held in the related criminal DWI case, and you are found not guilty, the ALR suspension can be removed. In that case, you must notify the Department of Public Safety (DPS) regarding the not-guilty decision. See the DPS contact information above.
The law requires the officer to seize your license when the Notice of Suspension/Temporary Driving Permit is issued. When you timely request an ALR hearing, the suspension is placed on hold until the Administrative Law Judge makes a decision in your case. Please note that if you have any other type of active suspension on your license, the Temporary Driving Permit does not authorize you to drive.
Please contact your local DPS driver’s license office regarding the availability of an official state identification card.
If the Administrative Law Judge upholds the suspension, you can’t get a driver’s license until the “suspension” period has passed and you have paid the reinstatement fee.
If the Administrative Law Judge upholds the suspension, you will lose your privilege to drive in Texas until the “suspension” period has passed and you have paid the reinstatement fee. The state in which you are licensed may also suspend your license. SOAH does not have information about potential action by another state.
No, because this is not a criminal case, you are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney.
Please talk to your attorney about this.
If you need time to hire an attorney, you may ask that your hearing be rescheduled, or continued. There is more discussion below about a request to reschedule the hearing.
SOAH employees cannot provide legal advice. In other words, we cannot tell you what you should do with your case. However, we can provide general information and guide you through the SOAH procedures. If you have questions at any point during the process, please ask.
After you ask for a hearing, DPS will mail you a Notice of Hearing. This notice tells you when and where your hearing will take place. However, the hearing may be rescheduled by the Administrative Law Judge. It is important that you read any order from the Administrative Law Judge.
Please contact your local SOAH office as soon as possible.
You may ask for your hearing to be rescheduled for a later date. You will need to contact the local SOAH and DPS-ALR offices as soon as possible to let them know. You will need to ask the DPS attorney if he agrees to reschedule the hearing. The SOAH rules require you to file a written request (a “motion for continuance”) with the Administrative Law Judge. You will need to include your full name as it appears on your driver’s license, the docket number that appears on your Notice of Hearing, the date and location of your hearing, a statement that you are requesting the judge to reschedule your hearing, the reason you need the hearing to be rescheduled, and a statement that you have spoken to the local DPS attorney about your request to reschedule the hearing. You must state whether the DPS attorney has any objection to your request. You also need to sign your request and provide your current contact information, including your phone number.
A form for a motion for continuance is at the end of this Guide.
The Administrative Law Judge will decide whether the hearing will be rescheduled. Unless the Administrative Law Judge grants the motion for continuance, the existing schedule remains in place. If you have not received a written order from the Administrative Law Judge, please contact your local SOAH office for information about your request.
On the back of your Notice of Hearing, about halfway down the page, there is a section called “State Office of Administrative Hearings.” At the end of that section, a phone number is listed for the local SOAH office. The SOAH clerk can provide a contact number for the local DPS attorneys.
It is important to make sure that the local SOAH and DPS-ALR offices have your current address and phone number. Documents and orders need to be mailed to you before and after the hearing. If you requested a hearing by phone, the Administrative Law Judge will need a correct phone number to call you for the hearing. For all hearings, the DPS attorney will need to speak with you if DPS needs to ask the Administrative Law Judge to reschedule the case. You must notify SOAH and DPS in writing about any change of address or telephone number.
SOAH’s headquarters are in a state office building in Austin, and SOAH’s regional offices are located in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, and El Paso. At those locations, hearings are held in hearing rooms. SOAH also uses hearing sites in many other areas of the state. Many of those hearing sites are located at county courthouses. You may be required to go through security screening at those locations.
With the exception of licensed peace officers, no one may possess a firearm or other weapon at a SOAH hearing.
Contact the local SOAH and DPS-ALR offices to tell them that you would like to change the type of hearing to a telephone hearing. You will also need to file a written request with the Administrative Law Judge as soon as possible.
In the middle of your Notice of Hearing, there are 2-4 paragraphs that begin with the word “THAT” in bold letters. Those paragraphs describe the facts that DPS must prove at the hearing.
In addition to those issues, DPS may also request a longer suspension period based on your driving record. A longer suspension period is set by statute, and it only affects drivers who have been suspended for a DWI or drug enforcement contact (including ALR suspensions) within ten years of the current DWI arrest.
You will need to file a written “production request” with DPS. The request needs to include the docket number (from your Notice of Hearing), your full name as it appears on your driver’s license, and the location of the hearing. Please look at the SOAH rules (Chapter 159) for more complete information. You may also ask the local DPS-ALR office for additional information.
You should bring a copy of your Notice of Hearing. You may bring any documents (such as items you requested and received from DPS) or witnesses you feel will be helpful to your case. Please note that DPS does not have to bring the arresting officer to the hearing unless you have issued and served a subpoena for the officer.
There are four ways to file documents at SOAH—by mail, by hand-delivery, by fax, or electronically. Be sure to include the SOAH docket number on all of your filings. If you have questions about filing, please call the SOAH Chief Clerk's Office at 512.475.4993.
For more specific instructions, visit Driver’s License Hearing Filing Information.
You may file documents electronically through use of the eFileTexas electronic filing platform. Self-represented litigants are encouraged to consider the benefits of electronically filing and serving documents through eFileTexas as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to filing and serving documents by mail, fax, or hand-delivery.
This method will require you to create an account and register with an electronic filing service provider approved by the Office of Court Administration. A list of approved providers, including many free options, is available on the eFileTexas.gov website.
The official state-provided filing service is EFILE.TXCOURTS.gov, and it is available for use at no cost.
Once you have registered for an account and logged into account, you may select “State Office of Administrative Hearings” from the list of available courts, locate your case, enter any required information, and electronically file documents. When a document is filed electronically through eFileTexas and accepted for filing by SOAH, a copy of the filing is delivered to the SOAH judge and also served electronically to the other parties in your case.
A subpoena is an order that requires a person to appear at a hearing and give testimony. It can also require the person to bring relevant documents to the hearing, if the person has the documents.
You will need to file with SOAH a written request, using the form entitled “ALJ-Issued Subpoena Request” on our website. The subpoena request must be filed no later than 10 days before the hearing. You must send a copy to the DPS attorney at the same time you file the request with the local SOAH office. If the subpoena is approved, you will need to follow the rules for serving the subpoena on the witness. When the witness appears for the hearing, you will need to pay a witness fee (see below).
Please look at the documents you received when you were arrested and/or any documents you requested from DPS.
DWI-arrest records might include ALR-specific paperwork (DIC-23, DIC-24, DIC-25), a probable cause affidavit, a DWI arrest report, breath test paperwork (breath test slip, DIC-56), blood test paperwork (TLE-51A, lab report), other arrest paperwork completed by the officers, and video recordings. Please note that any items requested must be in the subpoenaed officer’s actual possession. Otherwise, the officer cannot bring the item to the hearing.
A sheriff, constable, or any person over 18 years old who is not a party to the case may serve the subpoena. You will need to make the arrangements to serve the subpoena. Service of the subpoena on the witness must be made no later than 5 days before the hearing. However, some law enforcement agencies require more than 5 days before they will accept service of the subpoena on behalf of the officer. If you need additional time to serve the officers with the subpoena, you may ask to reschedule the hearing as discussed above. After you have served the subpoena, you will then need to complete the Certificate of Service and file it with both the local SOAH office and the DPS attorney no later than 3 days before the hearing.
When a witness appears at the hearing because of your subpoena, you must pay a $10 witness fee plus travel expenses, using the following formula:
Calculate the mileage for the witness using a recognized online mapping service, such as MapQuest or Google Maps. For a police officer, use the address of the police department as the starting point and the address of the hearing site as the end point.
Record the round-trip mileage for the witness.
If the round trip mileage is less than 25 miles, you will only need to pay the base witness fee of $10.
If the round trip mileage is greater than 25 miles, you will need to calculate the mileage fee by multiplying the total round trip mileage by the current state mileage rate set by the Texas Comptroller’s Office. You may contact the local SOAH office for information on the current state mileage rate.
After calculating the mileage fee, you will need to add the $10 base witness fee to the mileage fee to obtain the total expected payment for the witness.
The witness fee must be paid by check or money order payable to the witness. Do not file the witness fee with SOAH. You will need to bring the check or money order to the hearing.
This form is only required after the hearing and only if your hearing was held by telephone or by videoconferencing. If you subpoena an officer to appear for a phone or zoom hearing, and he actually appears and testifies by phone, you will need to mail the $10 base witness fee to the officer at his police department’s address and certify that you have done so.
Please call the local SOAH office as soon as possible to let staff members know. You should also follow-up with a written explanation.
At the start of the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will describe the hearing process and ask if you have any questions. While the Administrative Law Judge cannot give you legal advice about how to proceed with your case, he or she can answer questions about hearing procedure. If you become confused at any point during the hearing, you should ask questions. At the end of the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will ask if you have any questions before you leave.
Yes, the Administrative Law Judge will make an audio recording of the hearing.
DPS has the burden of proving all issues in the Notice of Hearing by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means that the evidence proves a fact is more likely than not true.
The DPS attorney will sometimes ask an officer to appear at the hearing, but DPS often relies only on the written arrest report to prove its case. If you want the officers to come to the hearing, you will need to subpoena the officers as discussed above.
The Administrative Law Judge will start the recording and make a series of announcements to identify your case, such as the docket number, name, location, and date. The DPS attorney will then identify himself or herself for the record, and you will be asked to state your name for the record. The Administrative Law Judge will then explain the hearing process. If you have any questions about the hearing, you may ask the Administrative Law Judge at any time during the hearing. Both parties may choose to make an opening statement at the beginning of the hearing, but it is not required. DPS will present its evidence first, since it has the burden of proof. When DPS has finished offering its evidence, you will have the opportunity to present evidence if you wish, but you are not required to present evidence. After the parties have finished offering evidence, both parties can make a closing argument. The closing argument explains why you feel the Administrative Law Judge should rule in your favor. You may make a closing argument if you wish, but you do not have to.
You are not required to testify or present other evidence at the hearing. However, if you have information that you feel would help your case, you may choose to testify or present documents as evidence. If you testify, the Administrative Law Judge will place you under oath. If there are other court cases regarding the same issues at the hearing, including a criminal case for DWI, please be aware that your testimony could be used against you in those other cases. Also, if you testify, the DPS attorney can to ask you questions about any issues related to your hearing.
DPS will provide documents, called exhibits, to prove its case in the hearing. DPS will offer exhibits such as the arrest report, information regarding the officer’s request to you for a breath or blood specimen, results of the breath or blood test (when applicable), and your driving record (when applicable).
DPS may have the stopping and/or the arresting officers come to the hearing to testify, but DPS is not required to do so. If DPS does call the officers as witnesses, the DPS attorney will ask them questions, and you will also be able to ask questions about your arrest.
After DPS offers its documents, the Administrative Law Judge will ask if you have any objections. An objection means you feel there is some legal reason the Administrative Law Judge should not consider a document or certain information in the document. If you simply disagree with information included in the officer’s report, this is not a legal objection. However, the Administrative Law Judge will give you the opportunity to testify later in the hearing. By testifying, you can tell the Administrative Law Judge how you feel the information in the arrest report is wrong or add information that you feel is missing from the report.
No. The Administrative Law Judge will call you at the phone number you provided when you requested a hearing. If you need to change your telephone number, contact the local SOAH and DPS-ALR offices as far in advance of the hearing as possible. At the time of the hearing, please make sure you are in a location that is free from distractions. If you are using a cell phone, please make sure you are in a place where you receive good service. Make sure the phone line remains open at the time of the hearing, and for at least 10 minutes after the time set for the hearing, so the Administrative Law Judge can contact you. If you do not answer when the Administrative Law Judge calls, a default order may be issued and your license suspended.
Before a telephone or videoconference hearing, you should receive a copy of the DPS exhibits in the mail. If your hearing date is soon, and you have not received the exhibits, please call the local SOAH and DPS-ALR offices. You should also tell the Administrative Law Judge, at the beginning of the hearing, if you have not received the documents or if you did not receive them in time to review them. It is important that you read the DPS documents before the hearing. You also need to have the documents with you when the Administrative Law Judge calls for the hearing. If you have documents that you plan to offer at the hearing, you will need to send a copy before the hearing to both the local SOAH office and to the DPS attorney handling your case.
The Administrative Law Judge will not make a decision during the hearing. Instead, the Administrative Law Judge will review the evidence and prepare a written decision, usually within four business days after your hearing.
The decision will be mailed to you at the address listed on your Notice of Hearing, unless you have provided a new address. Please let the Administrative Law Judge know at the hearing if there are any changes to your address.
The judge will review the evidence presented at the hearing that was admitted into the record. He or she will then decide if DPS proved each fact in the Notice of Hearing by a preponderance of the evidence. If so, then the Administrative Law Judge must authorize DPS to suspend your license for the amount of time provided by law for your case. If DPS failed to prove its case, then the Administrative Law Judge will deny DPS the authority to suspend your license.
If the Administrative Law Judge authorizes the suspension, the suspension will start the day after the Administrative Law Judge signs the decision. Until the Administrative Law Judge issues a decision, you may drive using your Notice of Suspension/Temporary Driving Permit, so long as there are no unrelated suspensions on your driver’s license.
If you did not receive the Notice of Hearing before the hearing date, or an emergency or issue caused you to miss your hearing, you may ask that the Administrative Law Judge set aside the default and grant a new hearing. The request must be in writing and filed with the Administrative Law Judge within 10 business days after the default order was signed. You will need to provide your full name as it appears on your driver’s license, the docket number on the Notice of Hearing and default order, the hearing date and location, and the reason you did not appear for your hearing. The Administrative Law Judge will consider your request and issue a written order as to whether the default will be set aside. This order will be mailed to your address as reflected in the Notice of Hearing. If the Administrative Law Judge sets aside the default order, you will receive another notice with the new hearing date and time.
A form for a motion to set aside a default order can be found at the end of this Guide.
No. By law, the Administrative Law Judge can only authorize or deny the suspension of your driver’s license. The suspension period is set by law, and it cannot be shortened or probated by the judge.
If you drive while your license is suspended, and you have not obtained a valid occupational license, you may be arrested and subjected to criminal penalties. You may also receive an additional suspension of your driver’s license.
The suspension period imposed by DPS is set by law. Because the Administrative Law Judge did not issue a decision on the merits of your case, you must contact DPS for information about the length of the suspension.
The suspension period imposed by DPS is set by law. Because the Administrative Law Judge did not issue a decision on the merits of your case, you must contact DPS for information about the length of the suspension.
DPS will send you a new license at the address listed on your driving record. If your official address with DPS (on your driving record) is not current, it is important that you update the address as soon as possible. Please note that including a new address on your request for hearing does not update your official driving record.
At the end of your suspension period, your license may be eligible for reinstatement. If there are no other actions against your license, you can reinstate your license after paying the required fee to DPS (see information about the fee and the mailing address on the Notice of Suspension you received). After reinstatement, DPS will send you a new license at the address listed on your driving record. If your official address with DPS (on your driving record) is not current, you should update the address as soon as possible. Please note that including a new address on your request for hearing does not update your official driving record.
If you disagree with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, you may file an appeal in the county court-at-law in the county where you were arrested. If there is no county court-at-law in
the county, then you may file the appeal in the county court. The appeal must be filed within 30 calendar days after the Administrative Law Judge signed the decision. Different courts have different procedures and fees for filing an appeal. You should contact the court where you will file your appeal for further information. If you file an appeal with a court, you must send a certified copy of your appeal to both SOAH and DPS at its headquarters in Austin. You may also need to order a certified record of the hearing (check with the court to see if required), and you will be responsible for the cost of preparing the record. For information about the cost of preparing your hearing record, please contact your local SOAH office. The judge of the court handling the appeal will review the record of your hearing to determine whether to uphold the decision, reverse the decision, or take other action.
Some drivers will qualify for a temporary stay of their license suspension, up to 90 days, if they properly file an appeal and provide proper notice to DPS and SOAH. Drivers with prior alcohol- related suspensions on their driving records may not qualify for the temporary stay.
SOAH can’t issue occupational driver’s licenses. Those licenses are generally handled by the county court-at-law. You may ask that court (either in the county of arrest or your county of residence) for information about how to get an occupational driver’s license. Some of those courts may post general information on their websites about occupational driver’s licenses. You can also contact the DPS Customer Service Center.