Did you know that the cost of a DWI in Texas can exceed $20,000 if convicted? For most drunk driving offenses in Texas, common direct and indirect costs include:
- Fines, surcharges, court costs and lawyer fees
- Jail time or prison sentences, perhaps even for a first offense
- Bail bonds
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Community service
- Intervention and educational programs for drunk driving
- More costly auto insurance
- Vehicle towing fees
Notes on the Cost of a DWI in Texas
While the cost of a DWI lawyer may seem high – $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the severity of the case – the cost of a DWI lawyer is much less than the cost of being convicted for a DWI in Houston.
Vehicle Towing & Impound Costs
Towing fees will range from $200-$450 while impound fees average $20 per day.
A bail bond is the best way to secure your freedom after arrested. The amount is based on several factors such as past DWI convictions, B.A.C. levels, B.A.C. testing compliance, or if “enhanced offenses” were committed. First time offenders rarely pay more than $1000 but amounts of $100,000 or more are likely for severe violations like intoxication manslaughter. A bond secured from a bail bond company will still require that you pay 10% of the total out of pocket.
Pre-Trial Supervision Costs
There are many types of bail bonds. Harris County has implemented a system of bonds when a defendant has no criminal history called a personal recognizance (PR) bond. These “free bonds” cost as much as $60/month and come with conditions similar to probation.
Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR) Fees
An Administrative License Revocation Hearing requested within 15 days of your arrest is the only way to save your license. As part of your defense, you will need to pay a process server to notify the arresting officer(s) of their need to appear. Fees for this service average $200 but will increase if more than one officer are required. If they do show up in court you’ll pay an additional witness fee up to $100 per officer.
Court Appearance Costs
Whether a defendant appears before a judge only for arraignment and a bail hearing prior to working out a plea arrangement or they end up going to trial, the cost of appearing in court is passed onto the defendant if convicted. These court costs vary but court appearance costs range from $200 to $1500.
Court-Imposed DWI Fines
By state law, you must also play a DWI fine if convicted. Texas has a fine schedule, however, the amount is determined by a judge if your case goes to court.
DWI Probation Fees
All DWI offenders receive mandatory probation for a minimum of six months. The probation fee for anyone convicted of DWI is between $60-$140 each month during the probation term. As with pre-trial supervision, a number of conditions will apply.
Pre-Trial Conditions / Probation Condition Costs
Pre-trial supervision and post-trial probation will come with conditions and associated costs. These include:
Mandatory Drug Tests
- Drug tests costs $50/test and can be random or as frequent as once per week.
- The Interlock Ignition is a device that requires you to take a breathalyzer test in order to start your car.
- Installation costs average about $150 and the monthly cost of the ignition interlock is usually $70-$100.
- In Harris County, you can expect this to be part of any conditions you receive, even for a first time DWI.
DWI Education Program Fees
If you are a first time DWI offender, you may be ordered to take part in one or more DWI Education Programs
- You can be made to wear an ankle monitor, know as a SCRAM device, that provides real-time updates on your drinking to authorities.
- This depends on both the severity of your crime and your ability to meet the terms of your supervision
- The cost for this new fashion accessory is $350-$550 a month.
An SR22, also known as proof of financial liability, is required to get your license back. All drivers convicted of a DWI crime, including driving under the influence of drugs or prescription medication, must show an SR-22 for a minimum of 2 years in order to maintain their driver’s license.
If an individual convicted of DWI lets their SR-22 lapse (due to cancellation or non-payment of the underlying policy), the Texas Department of Public Safety will suspend that person’s driver’s license.
The filing fee for the SR-22 form itself is minimal and typically costs between $15 and $25. However, the need for a SR-22 form flags a driver as high-risk to insurance companies, and thus their cost for the underlying motor vehicle insurance policy is likely to go up significantly. Texas drivers typically see their car insurance premiums increase by almost 87% following a DWI conviction – equivalent to about $1,000 per year.
Increased Car Insurance Costs
In order to have your driver’s license reinstated, you will need to buy additional insurance to meet minimum liability coverage. These requirements include:
- $30,000 for injury or death of a single person in a car accident
- $60,000 for injury or death of more than one person in a car accident
- $25,000 for property damage in a car accident
These additional requirements can add up to $2,000 per year to your car insurance costs.
License Reinstatement Fee
You will pay $125 to DPS to get a suspended license back.
Costs of a DWI in Texas That Are Not Costs (Technically)
On top of all this, you must ask yourself the following cost of a DWI in Houston:
- How much would losing my job or a divorce cost?
- What’s the cost of losing custody of my children?
- What is the time I lose at court, education programs, community service or waiting in line downtown for a drug test every week worth?
- What is the humiliation of having to walk around with a SCRAM device worth? How about picking up my kids from school with an interlock device?
Avoid The Cost of a DWI In Texas by Hiring a Proven DWI Lawyer
Call 713-628-1503 today for a no-obligation consultation with Clyde W. Burleson. It’s the only line on this page that doesn’t cost you money.