What is the True Cost of DWI Charge in Texas?

The Importance of Hiring a Well Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney to Handle Your Drunk Driving Case

Several years ago, a billboard close to Barton Springs in Austin, Texas, proclaimed “A DWI costs $17,000.” The website listed on the billboard backed up their claim, with a video which followed a Texas woman’s DWI arrest, which ultimately resulted in 100 hours of community service, the loss of her driver’s license, drug and alcohol education classes, 12 hours in jail and two years’ probation. The woman allegedly also lost her job, as well as her significant other as a result of the DWI. When contacted about how much a DWI realistically costs, TXDOT officials said the total costs of a DWI arrest could range from $5,000 to $24,000 for a first-time offender.

The Obvious Costs of a Texas DWI

The more apparent costs of a Texas Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Charge include the following:

  • A fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense, up to $4,000 for a second offense, and up to $10,000 for a third DWI offense.
  • Three days to 180 days in jail for a first offense, one month to one year in jail for a second offense, and two to ten years in prison for a third offense. During this jail or prison time, you will be unable to work and bring home a paycheck, so those lost wages must be factored in.
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to a year for a first offense—and an annual fee of $1,000-$2,000 for three years to keep your driver’s license. Loss of your driver’s license for up to two years, and an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to keep your driver’s license, and the same for a third-time DWI.

Other Costs Associated with a Texas DWI

If you are required to have an ignition interlock device placed on your vehicle, this will cost you both an initial fee as well as a monthly fee which can range from $65 to $85 per month for the duration. In many areas of Texas, the SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) is also being used. The bracelet measures alcohol consumption be reading vapors which are released in a person’s perspiration. The perspiration is sampled every 30 minutes, then those readings are transmitted daily to the company. The SCRAM bracelet cannot be removed, and is often ordered in conjunction with an interlock device. The SCRAM bracelet can cost as much as $400 per month.

Fines, probation fees, lawyer fees, counseling fees, court costs, interlock device fees, alternative transportation costs, SCRAM bracelet fees and time away from work can add up to a pretty hefty amount—meaning that $17,000 on the Austin billboard may be much closer than you think to the actual costs—and your costs could well be much higher. And do not forget the increases in auto insurance—that’s assuming your insurance company doesn’t drop you altogether.

How a Well Qualified Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you have been charged with a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Charge in Texas, the single best thing you can do for your future is to contact a knowledgeable and experienced Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. A well qualified DWI Lawyer can investigate the charges against you and work to mount a suitable defense. Perhaps you made a one-time mistake, or perhaps you do not feel that the charges are correct. Either way, a well-qualified Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer can help.

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