A driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction has far-reaching consequences. Even a first crime carries significant criminal penalties, and you might be left with a criminal record that is going to follow you for the remainder of your life.
However, the ramifications do not end there. One must also consider the financial consequences of the alleged transgression, which could result in massive debt.
What exactly are we discussing?
The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a billboard ad a few years ago claiming that the average cost of a DWI is $17,000. Despite the fact that this notion has been thoroughly discredited, a DWI can and does cost individuals thousands of dollars.
Moreover, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) oversees the types of Offender Education Programs for people who have been convicted of drunk driving. The classes are necessary, and which one people must complete depends on whether they are a first-time DWI offender, have many DWIs, or are a minor.
Texas takes DWI offenses very seriously, and the criminal fines, court expenses, and administrative penalties are all highly expensive. The entire cost of a DWI conviction varies depending on the circumstances; however, one should expect most or all of the costs listed below.
Criminal and Court Fees, Fines, and Penalties
If convicted, one has to pay for all of their court appearances. This can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500.
People face significant criminal fines if they are convicted of a DWI. Moreover, the sum is determined by prior crimes, aggravating factors, and whether anyone was injured as a result of drunk driving.
The following are the most common criminal penalties:
First Offense: $2,000
Second Offense: $4,000
Third Offense: $10,000
Manslaughter or Intoxication Assault: $10,000
DWI with a Child Passenger: $10,000
Compromised Employment Prospects and Jail Time
If the sentence involves a period of incarceration, one forfeits their income during that time. It is also conceivable that when one is freed, their employment might not be waiting for them. Furthermore, even if someone is not sentenced to jail time, numerous employers find a DWI conviction grounds for dismissal.
If one loses their job because of a DWI, they may find it challenging to get a new one, as having a criminal record might limit one's work opportunities.
Administrative Fees and Penalties
Administrative License Revocation
After a DWI offense, one's license will most likely be revoked, which is referred to as Administrative License Revocation. The length of imprisonment is determined in court and is based on whether the individual failed or refused chemical tests, as well as if someone has previous DWI convictions. One should expect a license revocation term of 180 days to two years in most cases.
If someone is convicted of a DWI, irrespective of previous crimes, they are going to incur severe administrative fines and expenses.
Does Texas Still Have DWI Subcharges?
Firstly, surcharges have been repealed entirely. Surcharges were fees that were added on top of the standard penalties and fines for a DWI conviction. Surcharges for DWIs started at $3,000 and went up to $6,000.
Failure to pay a surcharge could have resulted in one's driver's license being revoked. They are, thankfully, no longer in effect.
Any driver who has recently received a surcharge may now have their driver's license renewed and the surcharge erased from the record. Nevertheless, one should be aware that there are additional penalties for DWIs.
Modifications to the DWI Fine Structure in Texas
The removal of surcharges does not imply that Texas no longer takes DWI charges seriously. DWI fines have been adjusted to cover the loss of the surcharge in order to retain the severity of a DWI accusation.
When it comes to a first DWI offense, the mandatory fine is now $3,000, with an additional annual price of up to $2,000 to keep one's driver's license.
A flat punishment of $4,500 is now imposed on second infractions within a 36-month period.
A fixed fine of $6,000 is imposed on any DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or above.
Additional aggravating conditions or a third violation might result in fines of up to $10,000.
It's worth noting that these fines are the minimum amounts, not the maximum. In certain cases, there is no possibility of a fine reduction. Any conviction results in a minimum fine of $3,000 and a maximum fine of $10,000.
New Fines Are Added to the Traditional Texas DWI Penalties
Dealing with a DWI accusation is a serious matter, especially since the regulations have been altered. Penalties are now more severe than they have ever been, with a focus on fines.
If someone has been charged with a DWI in Texas, they should contact an expert attorney right away. They assist you in navigating the legal system, reducing or eliminating penalties, and ensuring that you keep your license.
Keep in mind that these new financial consequences are in addition to the existing Texas DWI laws. A DWI is a class B misdemeanor in Texas, and it carries the following penalties:
First DWI Offense: Six to 180 days in prison, a license suspension ranging from 90 days to one year, or a $2,000 annual charge to keep one's license
Second DWI Offense: A month to a year in prison, a one-year license suspension, or a $2,000 annual cost for the next three years to keep one's license
Subsequent and Third Offenses: Two to 10 years in prison, a two-year driver's license suspension, or paying an annual fee to keep one's license
DWI with Passengers Under the Age of 15: This is a felony that lands you in state prison. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail and makes the offender a felon for life
Mandatory substance abuse treatment programs, an ignition interlock device, or community service are all possible penalties. If you are wondering how long do you go to jail for 4th DUI, we have another article for that.
Alcohol Education Program Fees
One is compelled to pay for and participate in alcohol education programs if they are convicted of a DWI. This costs $70 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders must enroll in a more comprehensive program, which costs $185.
Monthly Probation Fees
If someone is convicted of a DWI, they must serve probation. Probation is usually given to first-time offenders for six to 12 months. They should expect a longer probation if aggravating factors were involved or if they are a repeat offender. Offenders must pay a monthly cost of $60-100 while on probation.
DWI Education Program
If someone is a first-time offender, they must go through 12-hour DWI education classes that focus on how alcohol and drugs impair the body, mind, and driving abilities. It also includes information on Texas DWI regulations as well as substance misuse and dependency.
Ignition Interlock Device
In many circumstances, an ignition interlock device is necessary and is put in the driver's vehicle. A monthly cost of $70-$100 is charged for this service. Furthermore, these devices are notoriously defective, and the offender is responsible for any repairs.
The judge decides whether or not someone is given an ignition interlock device during court proceedings (IID). This device effectively means that to start the vehicle and keep it running while driving, one must pass a breathalyzer test.
Installing and maintaining an IID is costly, and using one when transporting passengers is unpleasant. The greatest strategy to avoid a DWI is to plan ahead of time when going out for a night of drinking. If you're already facing DWI charges, you should contact skilled DWI lawyers in Fort Worth TX who can help you develop the strongest possible defense and increase your chances of a favorable conclusion and driving privileges.
DWI Intervention Program
If someone is a repeat offender, they are required to complete the 32-hour DWI Intervention program. These DWI classes go into further detail into the problems that can lead to repeat DWI charges, such as chemical dependency, lifestyle issues, and low self-esteem. It also has materials for 12-step DWI education programs and support groups.
Increased Auto Insurance Costs
To get a license back, one needs more liability coverage on their car insurance, and their insurance provider is most certainly going to charge more for it.
What Does One Need to Bring to DWI Classes?
Regardless of which of the DWI classes one is required to attend, they must bring specific documentation with them to the first meeting and, if possible, when they register for the class online.
People need to have:
Their driver's license or other state-issued identification
Social Security Number (SSN)
Documents from the court indicating that they have been instructed to take the class.
Their court case number
One's driver's license is suspended if they fail to attend court-ordered classes.
Contact Sparks Law Firm in Fort Worth, Texas Today!
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation takes DWIs very seriously, and so do we!
DWI convictions are serious and can stay on one's record for the rest of their life. Do not speak to anyone until you have contacted Sparks Law Firm if you have been charged with a DWI. The experience and quality of the accused party's lawyers also define how often DUI charges are reduced.