DWIs are no longer punished the way that they have been in the past. Traffic offenses, in general, have been restructured, with fines and surcharges being changed completely.
Understanding how these penalties now work is important for every driver on the road, whether or not they are worried about a DWI charge.
No More DWI Surcharges in Texas
First and foremost, surcharges are now completely repealed. Surcharges were additional fees on top of normal fines and penalties associated with a DWI conviction. Surcharges for DWIs began at $3,000 and could reach as high as $6,000.
Failing to pay a surcharge could have originally lead to the revocation of your driver’s license. Luckily, they are no longer in effect.
Any driver who was recently hit with a surcharge may now see that the surcharge is removed from their record, and their driver’s license reinstated. However, you should be aware that other penalties have been put in place for DWIs.
Texas Changes the DWI Fine Structure
Removing surcharges doesn’t mean Texas won’t still take DWI charges seriously. To maintain the severity of a DWI charge, fines for DWI have been increased to cover the loss of the surcharge.
- Mandatory fines now include a flat $3,000 charge for a first offense, with an additional annual fee of up to $2,000 to retain your driver’s license.
- Second offenses within a 36-month period now result in a flat fine of $4,500.
- Any DWI where your BAC is recorded as 0.15 or higher will lead to a flat fine of $6,000.
- Aggravating factors beyond that or a third offense can raise fines as high as $10,000.
It’s important to note that these fines are not maximums, but minimums. There is no potential for a fine reduction in these convictions. Any conviction will result in at least $3,000 in fines, and potentially up to $10,000.
New Fines Are in Addition to Traditional DWI Penalties
Dealing with a DWI charge is serious business, especially now that the laws have been changed. Penalties are higher than ever before, with an emphasis on fines.
If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, you should reach out to an experienced attorney today. They will help you navigate the legal system, work to reduce or remove penalties, and help you retain your license.
Remember, these new financial implications are on top of the other DWI penalties that are still in place. In Texas, a DWI is a class B misdemeanor, carrying penalties including:
- First DWI offense: anywhere from 6 to 180 days in jail, a license suspension of 90 days to a year, or an annual fee of up to $2000 to keep your license.
- Second DWI offense: Anywhere from a month to a year in jail, a license suspension for at least a year or the three-year annual fee of $2000 to keep your license.
- Third and subsequent offenses: Anywhere from two to ten years in prison, up to two years license suspension or the annual fee to retain your license.
- DWI with a passenger under 15: This is considered a state jail felony. A conviction carries up to two years in prison and leaves the convicted person a felon for life.
Still, more potential penalties might include mandatory substance abuse treatment programs, community service, or an ignition interlock device.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.