There are many costs associated with a DWI. Aside from the obvious financial costs, the biggest single cost may be the the one or two days at the outset that you spent in jail. Jail is a miserable proposition. Minutes feel like hours. There are psychological and social costs as well. Staying out of jail at the end of your case is a very important proposition as well. Whether you feel you are wrongly accused of DWI, or you just made a mistake, the costs start piling up immediately. Aside from the trauma of your arrest and being in jail, the costs of DWI in Texas carry a heavy price tag in fines, penalties, and headaches. A DWI arrest is not cheap. The purpose of this article is to show you that the costs of a Texas DWI conviction are much greater. A DWI conviction will stay on your record forever, and will result in fines, hidden costs, and could affect your employment. This is why hiring the right DWI attorney is so important. Regardless of the costs, you have to start being proactive about them. You will feel much better if you have a clear idea of the road in front of you. Call me and I will walk you through every step of this process. When you have answers, you will have control, and you will feel better.
So, before you even go to court, the costs of DWI start adding up. Here are some initial costs that flow from a DWI arrest:
- Ignition Interlock Device
- Texas Driver’s License Suspension
- Hiring a DWI Attorney
Texas Driver’s License Suspension for DWI Arrest
A cost that you may incur early on in the process is obtaining an occupational driver's license should your driver's license get supended. When you get arrested for DWI, you can have a license suspension for two different reasons. This is a topic for another page, but the license hearing can be an effective tool, even if you do not prevail. This is because the license hearing can be a valuable tool to gather information for your criminal case. The important deadline is 15 days. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request a license hearing. Here are the two reasons in which a license suspension can flow from your DWI arrest:
- You refused to take a breath or a blood test
- You consented to a test and your BAC was .08 or above
When you get arrested, the police officer will explain that if you refuse, your license will be suspended. If you consent and fail, your suspension is 90 days. If you refuse, it is 180 days. It is very much a Sophie’s choice. Even if you refuse, they will get a warrant and take your blood against your will.
You only have 15 days to save your license! If you don’t request a hearing within this time frame, your license goes into effect 40 days after your arrest. At the hearing, DPS must prove that the police officer had probable cause to arrest you for DWI. If you lose the hearing, you will need to petition for an Occupational Driver’s License.
Ignition Interlock Device as a DWI Bond Condition
This is probably the biggest complaint my clients have during the DWI Process. The ignition interlock is a breath test machine attached to the ignition in your car, and your car won't start until you blow into it. One of the real bummers is when the judge orders you to get an interlock device on your car. Unfortunately, there is nothing that I can do about it. In Tarrant County, it can be discretionary with the judge. But if your BAC is above .15, it is mandatory. It will also be mandatory if you are facing a second DWI.
The installation costs about $100, and there are between $60 and $90 dollars a month in fees. If you try to blow after drinking, your car will not start. But, more than that, the interlock company will report your failure to the court. That could result in your bond revoked and all kinds of problems!
One of my clients recently got a warrant for his arrest because his mouthwash was setting it off! I was able to get the warrant lifted before he was arrested, but it was a real headache for my client and for me.
The Costs of a DWI Conviction in Texas
The costs of a DWI conviction can become a financial nightmare. After you have spent money defending your DWI arrest, here is more bad news. The costs of DWI in Texas are going up. This is why it is crucial to hire the right attorney who will fight aggressively to keep an conviction off your record. I will look to plea these cases as a last resort. Many lawyers do not want this fight. Here are some costs:
- DWI Conviction on your Record Forever
- Court Costs
- Labor Detail
- DPS Surcharge Fees
Costs of DWI Surcharges and Fines
If you do face a conviction, you will be faced with dealing with surcharges in order to keep your license. The Texas Driver Responsibility Program began assessing surcharges in 2003. A surcharge is a fee to reinstate your Texas driver’s license. This fee is above and beyond any court costs or fines. A DWI conviction will result in an annual surcharge for three years. These are very harsh penalties. Before you can get your Texas driver’s license reinstated, the surcharge fees are required annually. The fees are above and beyond any fines or court costs. If you don’t pay, your license will be suspended until payment is made.
- First conviction—$1,000 Annual Surcharge for three years
- Second Conviction—$1,500 Annual Surcharge for three years
- If you are convicted with a BAC of .16 or higher—$2,000 Annual Surcharge for three years
Courts are authorized to impose high fines for a DWI conviction. For a first-time DWI, the fine can be up to $2,000. For a second DWI, the maximum fine rises to $4,000. And for a felony DWI conviction, the fine can be up to $10,000. If there is a child under 15 in the car with you, the fine can also be $10,000.