Question:

How much will a DWI conviction cost me? 

Answer:

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 required.

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 $50-$75.

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 wounded.

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, after all.

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*All answers 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 relationship.

Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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