How much will a DWI
conviction cost me?
It can vary greatly, so the
answer is not the same for everyone. It is not a pretty picture,
in any case. The amounts listed here are estimates for a
first-time offense only, not to be taken absolutely. Repeat
offenses lead to greater costs.
Upon arrest, the person's car
is usually towed and stored. Fees range from $45 to $100.
If the driver's license (or
privilege to get a license) is suspended after an ALR hearing,
or if a hearing is not requested, a $100 reinstatement fee is
Bail costs vary greatly,
depending on many factors. A few very lucky individuals get
personal recognizance bonds, which cost nothing but the promise
to appear in court. However, most people must pay between $50
and $500 to be released.
Some counties require pretrial
supervision (believe it or not, probation even before
conviction, solely based upon the accusation), including regular
fees of about $20 per month until the case is resolved.
Fines for a first-time offense
are $0-$2000. $500 is a normal fine.
Court costs are between $160
and $300, excluding any subpoena fees. If a videotape was used,
$15 more is assessed.
Probation fees depend upon
length of probation. $25-$40 per month is the statutory range
for such fees, so a two-year probation can cost as much as $960.
Regular conditions of probation
include the completion of a DWI education program, costing
Private counseling or treatment
for alcoholism costs thousands of dollars. Cheaper government
programs may be available.
One of the greatest variables
is the impact on the driver's insurance rate. Major insurers
like State Farm or Allstate will simply refuse coverage. For
those insurers willing to offer policies, price depends on
numerous factors: age, marital status, make and model of car
driven, levels and type of coverage sought, driving record, and
whether the DWI involved a wreck or other charges.
Without a doubt, the insurance
rate will increase substantially, and options will be limited.
The insurer may require the purchase of six months in advance.
An SR-22, required by the state, costs $50 more. A lapse in
coverage can cause the driver's license to be suspended.
Of course, attorney
fees are highly variable. They can range from a few hundred
dollars to thousands, depending upon many factors.
Other indirect costs include
time lost from work by going to court appearances and serving
jail time. Restitution for injuries and property damage in wreck
cases are usually required conditions of probation.
Transportation costs include cab or bus fare while a driver's
license is suspended. Occupational licenses, which require the
filing of a lawsuit, cost hundreds of dollars, as well.
Other considerations include
possible job loss or limitation of opportunities. Marriages and
other personal relationships are often seriously and deeply
How much will a DWI conviction
cost? Short answer: a whole lot. Given the extaordinary
impact a conviction can have, it is crucial to obtain sound
legal assistance. Many people believe they cannot afford an
attorney and simply walk into court and plead guilty without an
attorney. Even if you don't hire Joseph Graham, please find a
competent DWI defense attorney to help you; don't go it alone.
In the long run, that attorney fee may not seem like so much,
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are for people 21 years or older, do not involve enhancements,
are not exclusive, and are limited to Texas.
**This page is for
informational purposes ONLY and must not be relied upon as legal
advice because it is NOT a substitute for the advice of a qualified
attorney, nor does it establish an attorney-client
Not certified by the Texas
Board of Legal Specialization.