If you are charged with a DWI in Texas, your life is likely to be transformed overnight. You will face losing many of the things you have taken for granted. You could lose your license and possibly your liberty while the financial cost of a DWI in Texas can be astronomical.
A recent CBS study found Texas has the 11th worst record of driving after consuming alcohol in the country. The Department of Transportation estimates someone is killed or hurt in a DUI/DWI wreck every 20 minutes in our state. Texas is tough on a lot of crimes, and driving under the influence is no exception, even for your first offense.
Although there is no hard and fast rule about how much a DWI offense will cost you, it will certainly run into thousands of dollars.
In 2010, a press release from Texas Department of Transportation stated:
“Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for up to a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Safety officials say other costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.”
TxDOT goes on to provide an estimate of the costs for other DWI scenarios, specifically:
DWI with a Child Passenger
You can face a fine up to $10,000, up to two years’ incarceration in a state jail and the loss of your license for 180 days.
Second Offense DWI
A fine of up to $4,000, a month in jail, the loss of your license for two years and an annual fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.
Third Offense DWI
A $10,000 fine, a prison term of up two years and a fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your license.
If you have received two or more DWI convictions within five years, you must install an ignition interlock system that stops your vehicle being operated if you’ve been drinking alcohol. There’s an installation fee ranging from $50 to $200 and a monthly rental fee ranging from $50 to $100.
The fees in question relate to the DWI surcharge program – the Department of Public Safety calls it a driver responsibility program – that requires a payment of $1,000 a year for three years after a DWI conviction and $2,000, if your BAC was above .16 at the time of the offense. See the full table of charges here.
As well as these court costs, many people who are charged with a DWI hire a lawyer and pay legal fees. You don’t have to hire a lawyer but it can be a dangerous strategy because an attorney can help you avoid some serious traps set by the prosecution. A lawyer can uncover flaws in the case against you which could lead to you receiving a lighter sentence or even acquittal if the evidence against you is suspect or your arrest was unlawful. For instance, you may have been forced to take a blood test without giving your explicit consent. This article in NOLO, estimates your legal costs are likely to be around $2,000 and up to $5,000 if a case goes to trial.
The financial implications listed by TxDOT do not include the knock-on effects of a DWI. If you are jailed, you will lose your income, possibly your home, and future earning potential. If you are no longer able to drive, you may face expensive costs for alternative transportation. We highlight some of the potentially devastating effects of a DWI here.
Most of the people we help who have been charged with a DWI offense never thought it would happen to them. It’s a lot easier than you might think to fail a breath test.
Texas considers you to be driving over the legal limit if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more. Factors such as the amount of food you have consumed, the type of alcohol involved and your body mass index are highly relevant. It’s possible to be driving with illegal BAC levels after just a couple of alcoholic drinks.
The easiest way to avoid getting a DWI is to avoid driving after consuming alcohol. Appoint a designated driver or take Uber. We know life happens and sometimes we make mistakes. Although the costs and trauma of a DWI charge may seem overwhelming, you are not alone. At Peek & Toland , we have helped many people who face a DWI to get past it and to get their lives back on track. Call us at (512) 474-4445.