Driving while under the influence is never a good idea. Recent research shows that in the US, over 27% of all traffic accidents were caused by a drunk driver in 2020. In Texas alone, over 13,592 people died as a result of a collision with an intoxicated driver.
Taking into account these shocking statistics, it's no surprise that the punishment for intoxicated driving is quite severe. Every US state penalizes drunk drivers with fines ranging from $500 to a staggering $6,500 depending on the number of previous offenses. Some states, such as Texas, have notoriously harsh DWI punishments, charging offenders with both a $2,000 fine and mandatory jail time.
How long an offender spends in jail will depend on their criminal record. If their record is clean, a judge may allow them to post bail and avoid lock-up altogether. Nevertheless, bond amounts are steep in Texas. So, many offenders are left wondering how much is a DWI bond in Texas and if they’ll be able to afford it.
To help offenders save funds and secure justice for their cases, here is everything they need to know about DWI bonds in Texas.
How Texas Punishes DWIs
All across the US, a DWI is considered a serious offense. Nevertheless, some states have harsher punishments than others. Texas, for example, is famous for its zero-tolerance law. Instated in 2005, the law forbids anyone from operating a vehicle if they have even trace amounts of alcohol in their system. Things can get worse if you deny a breathalyzer in Texas.
However, the state is considerate of the offender’s age. Therefore, it has systems in place that punish minors and adults differently. For instance, Texas charges drivers under the age of 21 with driving under the influence of alcohol or DUIs.
The Lone Star state defines DUIs as Class C Misdemeanors, and they entail much lighter punishments. Minors under the age of 17 will face a $500 fine, a 60-day suspended license, and around 20-40h of community service.
However, Texas reserves the harshest punishments for adults. For starters, courts in Texas charge adults over the age of 21 with driving while intoxicated or DWIs. Unlike DUIs, DWIs are charged under the Texas Penal Code, meaning the courts can treat them as Third Degree Felonies.
Consequently, adults can face fines ranging from $2,000-$10,000, a suspended license, and between 72 hours to 10 years in jail. This will depend on the number of previous offenses and if the drunk driver caused any accidents. But if this is the driver’s first crime, courts in Texas can be a bit more lenient and allow them to avoid mandatory jail time if they’re able to post bail.
Types of Bonds in Texas
Though many use the terms ‘bail’ and ‘bond’ interchangeably, there is a difference between them. Bail is how much money the offender has to pay to get released. Conversely, a bond is the total amount of money the offender has to pay the county to secure that release.
Texas recognizes five different types of bonds:
● Attorney bonds — In Texas alone, an attorney can post a bond for an offender. Once they do, they automatically secure an attorney-client relationship and earn the right to represent the defendant in court.
● Cash bonds — Offenders can secure their release if they post the entire bond amount in cash.
● Personal recognizance bond — Personal recognizance bonds, or PR for short, don’t require offenders to pay any money for their release. Instead, the court will release them after they essentially promise to appear before a judge as mandated.
● Property bonds — Though it's rare, offenders can offer up some property to secure their release.
● Surety bond — This type of bond is the most common in Texas, and it involves a bond company paying the county to secure the offender’s release.
How Much Is a DWI Bond in Texas
The Texas zero-tolerance law means the state does not hold back when it comes to setting bond amounts. The exact amount an offender will have to pay to secure a release will depend on several factors. A few of these include the number of previous offenses, the age of the offender, and the individual judge.
For instance, a first-time offender will usually have to post a $2,000 bond to secure a release. If they’re paying this money through a bond company, the company will normally charge 10% of the total amount posted as a personal fee. However, if this is the offender’s second DWI charge, they’ll be looking at a roughly $4,000 bond, depending on the county.
Third-time offenders face the harshest punishment. Though everyone charged with a DWI has the right to be released on bail in Texas, the bail conditions are much stricter. Bond amounts could start at $10,000 and go up if the offender caused a crash while driving. They can also include extra fees to cover drug and alcohol tests and increased insurance rates.
To increase the chances of winning a DWI case, you will be needing an experienced Tarrant County DUI attorney by your side.