The Cost of a DWI in the Lone Star State
San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso and all other cities in the state of Texas have the same DWI laws when it comes to drinking alcohol and driving – those who have a 0.08 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) are considered driving impaired and will be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Being convicted of DUI in the state of Texas carries many penalties, including high monetary fines that can put a dent in someone’s financial life. However, the fines are not the only financial repercussion that individuals face while they deal with a DWI arrest and trial.
What Penalties Will I Face for DWI in Texas?
Texas, just like other states in the country, uses a number of different types of penalties when it comes to punishing those who have been convicted of DUI. While the punishments are relatively similar, the severity of these punishments varies from one state to the next. For those facing their first DWI offense in Texas, they have to face the following penalties:
- Minimum Jail Time Between 3 and 180 Days
- Fines Up to $2,000 (unless a minor under 15 years old is present)
- License Suspension Between 90 and 365 Days
Texas, unlike many other states in the country, does not have a “lookback period,” which is a specific period of time when previous DWI and drinking and driving offenses are considered relevant. Instead, any previous drunk or drugged driving offense is counted against the individual, even if it happened 25, 35, or 45 years ago. Repeat offenders of DUI face even harsher penalties – second time offenders in Texas face the following penalties:
- Minimum Jail Time Between 30 Days and One Year
- Fines Up to $4,000 (unless a minor under 15 years old is present)
- License Suspension Between 180 Days and Two Years
Paying for a DWI Arrest Before Conviction
While the fines for DUI in Texas are high, they are not the only financial penalty that individuals face when they are charged with drinking and driving. When individuals are pulled over and arrested for suspicion of DWI, their vehicle is towed to the local impound lot – this is if the arresting officer does not allow another party to take possession of the vehicle. When individuals are ready to get their car back, they are responsible for paying any towing and storage fees that may have accumulated, which generally ranges between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.
When individuals are arrested, they are usually taken to jail, formally charged, processed, and then released – though this is if there are no aggravating circumstances associated with the incident. Should there be aggravating factors, such as an accident, injury, having a minor present in the car or resisting arrest, it is possible for individuals to be booked into the jail and held with bail. The bail for an aggravated DWI charge varies, but this needs to be paid by the offenders, one of their loved ones or a bail bondsman in order for them to be released. Depending on the circumstances, it could be a good amount of money.
Once offenders receive the date for their first court appearance, they will want to hire a lawyer to help try their case. All lawyers and law firms have different amounts they charge clients for legal services, and they also have different manners in which they wish to get paid – some require payment up front, some charge by the hour, and others may not require payment until after the trial. Regardless of these factors, good DWI lawyers are generally not cheap, with costs ranging anywhere from $1,000 and $5,000 and sometimes higher depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Paying for a DWI After Conviction
There are generally two courses a trial for DWI takes –offenders are found innocent and have all charges dropped or they are found guilty and need to then deal with the penalties associated with their crime. As mentioned, first time DWI offenders in the state of Texas are faced with paying fines up to $2,000, but these first offender fines are not the same in all states. Every state in the country sets its own DUI fine amount.
Insurance Rates Will Increase After DWI
Many people do not consider the effects a DWI conviction has on car insurance rates. Since drinking and driving is very dangerous, DUI offenders pose a higher risk of making a claim and are therefore a higher risk for insurance companies to insure. Because of this, insurance companies need to raise the rate offenders pay in order to cover the increased risk they bring. Each car insurance provider has its own calculations for how much to raise someone’s rates, so there is no way to exactly know how much extra drunk driving offenders have to pay for insurance coverage.
It is possible, however, to provide a ballpark estimate for the increase that DWI offenders will see when it comes to their car insurance rates. In comparison to insurance providers in other states, providers in the state of Texas are relatively lenient when it comes to punishing those with driving under the influence convictions. On average, offenders will see their rates increase by just under 60 percent, which adds an additional $75 to their monthly premium payments.
How to Avoid the High Cost of a DWI Conviction
After seeing all the potential costs individuals face for a DWI arrest and conviction, it is easy to see how something like this can derail someone’s financial future. When all is said and done, it is possible for drunk or drugged driving offenders to pay $40,000 or more for a dangerous mistake that could easily have been avoided. The only way to prevent the financial repercussions of DWI in TX is by not drinking and driving–to always have a plan to get home safely and legally when drinking. This will help not only protect your wallet but also your life and the lives of your passengers and other drivers.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.