Three Beers for $15,000? The Cost Of A Texas DWI Conviction

Some Texas DWI defense attorneys estimate the financial costs of a drunk driving conviction anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for even a first time offender. For those who made one mistake or for those who were wrongly accused of driving while impaired, the cost of just three drinks can quickly become very expensive.

A driver can be arrested for a Texas DWI if his or her blood alcohol content is at or above .08. Consuming three beers is enough for some people to reach the level of legal intoxication; others may consume more and others may consume less and still reach the same BAC.

The penalties for a DWI conviction increase with the number of repeat offenses. The fine for a first time DWI in Texas is capped at $2,000. A second DWI conviction can result in up to a $4,000 fine and a third or felony conviction can mean up to a $10,000 fine. That’s not including court costs, insurance costs, bail if posted, an ignition interlock device, costs of reinstating your driver’s license, attorney’s fees and surcharges.

What Is A DWI Surcharge?

The Texas Driver Responsibility Program allows surcharges to be assessed for specific traffic offenses committed after September 1, 2003. Surcharges are administrative fees that are in addition to any other fees and fines related to a DWI conviction.

From the date of a DWI conviction, a DWI surcharge will be assessed annually for the next three years. There are no points added to your Texas driver’s license related to the surcharges because the conviction itself mandates the assessment of the surcharge. Drivers may be surprised to learn that a DWI conviction in another state can still result in surcharges in Texas.

A first offense DWI surcharge is $1,000, for a total of $3,000 over three years. A second or subsequent DWI conviction earns a surcharge of $1,500 annually, for a total of $4,500 in Texas surcharges. Those who are convicted of an ‘extreme DWI,’ which means that the BAC reading was .16 or greater regardless of whether or not it is a first offense, will be assessed a $2,000 annual surcharge, for a total of $6,000 over three years.

In addition to the DWI surcharges after conviction, you may face an additional surcharge of $250 for three years if you are caught driving before your license is reinstated and/or another $250 for three years if you are caught driving uninsured.

Suspension Of Your Texas Driver’s License For A DWI Arrest Or Conviction

After you’ve been arrested for DWI in Texas, your driver’s license will be suspended. If you refused consent to a blood or breath test or if you failed the blood alcohol test, your license will be immediately suspended, even before you are convicted of drunk driving. You will be issued a temporary license that will expire shortly after issue. In the meantime, you must request a review hearing within 15 days of your arrest to maintain your driving privileges.

The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process is separate from the criminal proceedings in a DWI case. It is important to your DWI defense strategy because if you are successful, you will have your license reinstated after the hearing. It is also an important opportunity for your DWI defense attorney to find out what evidence has been collected against you to prove the DWI charges.

At the hearing, the Department of Public Safety must prove that the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over as well as probable cause to then arrest you for DWI. If your driver’s license was suspended for refusing a blood or breath test, DPS must also show that the arresting officer warned you of the consequences of refusing the test.

Fighting DWI Charges Is The First Step Toward Avoiding A DWI Conviction and Penalties

An aggressive DWI defense lawyer in your area can further explain the charges you face if you’ve been arrested for drunk or impaired driving. The financial costs of a Texas DWI conviction can quickly add up; fighting the charges is the first step toward avoiding a drunk driving conviction.