After a DWI arrest in Texas, most people are concerned about the cost of a DWI lawyer. Given the high court fees and fines, it might seem too expensive to spend money on a DWI lawyer. However, working with an experienced DWI lawyer can save you time, money, and hassle. Texas has some of the harshest penalties for DWI offenses. In addition to the court fees, a DWI conviction leads to additional fines ranging between $3,000 and $6,000. The additional fines for DWI offenses replaced the surcharges previously imposed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The cost of a DWI conviction in Texas can be overwhelming and leave you struggling financially. To prevent DWI costs from getting out of hand, you should work with an experienced DWI lawyer. For the best DWI legal representation, you can count on Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer.
Whether the Cost of a DWI Lawyer is Worth It
Initially, hiring a DWI defense lawyer will be an additional cost, but it can save you the repercussions of a criminal conviction. You should only work with a lawyer who understands everything about Fort Worth area courts and the Texas DWI laws.
Texas law defines the applicable fines for a DWI offense. The specific amount of fines will depend on:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
- Previous DWI record
- The presence of aggravating factors
The applicable fines for DWI offenses in Texas start at $2,000 but might be as high as $10,000, depending on the offense. With an experienced DWI lawyer, you can negotiate with the prosecutor so that you only pay the minimum fees. However, if you choose to go it alone without a lawyer's help, you might end up paying hefty fines that you would have avoided.
The fines and penalties can be harsh even if you have committed a standard first-time DWI offense. However, a DWI lawyer will negotiate with the court and the prosecutor and explain why you should not pay hefty fines. Some of the areas that the lawyer may highlight to negotiate for a penalty reduction are:
- The defendant doesn't have a previous DWI conviction.
- No injuries or accidents resulted from the DWI offense.
- There were no aggravating factors like speeding or very high BAC results.
You should particularly hire a DWI lawyer if you face charges for multiple DWI offenses. A lawyer will point out several mitigating factors that might convince the prosecutor and the judge to reduce your DWI fines. It's good to have a private lawyer as opposed to a public defender appointed by the court. A private lawyer will give your case the attention it requires.
An experienced private DWI lawyer comes in handy in plea bargaining with the DA to reduce penalties and fines. An experienced lawyer is also better placed to handle the jury trial proceedings because they understand the strategies that work and those that don't.
How DWI Lawyers Price Their Services
DWI lawyer fees vary from one law firm to the other. Some law firms charge a flat fee that covers all aspects of a DWI case. Some DWI lawyers charge an hourly rate, meaning that the cost will depend on how long it takes to complete your case. You are likely to incur a higher cost for an hourly rate depending on the severity of your charges and the legal strategies needed to create a convincing defense. You will incur lower legal fees if your lawyer manages to settle the DWI case out of court without having the case proceed to trial.
The typical DWI lawyer costs range between $5,000 and $10,000 if the case does not proceed to trial. However, if your DWI case is complex and can't be handled out of court, you might spend as high as $15,000. If aggravating factors are present, a case is likely to proceed to trial.
The DWI lawyer costs might seem high. However, an experienced lawyer could save you other costs that include:
- Probation fees
- DWI and DWI Costs
- DWI bail costs
- Restitution fees
- DWI court costs
- Vehicle impoundment fees
- DWI license suspension
- DWI surcharges
- DWI insurance fees
- Ignition interlock devices
DWI and DWI Fines in Texas
Texas courts impose fines on defendants after a DWI conviction. The law sets out the maximum DWI fines, but the courts and the prosecutors can reduce the fines significantly based on their discretion. An experienced DWI could negotiate with the prosecutor to have your DWI case settled out of court, which could save you the expenses of a court trial. Negotiating with the prosecutor could reduce your DWI charges, which will reduce your fines. The prosecutor might also be willing to reduce your fines significantly in exchange for a guilty plea.
A first time DWI offense under Texas law is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $2,000 and a jail time not exceeding six months. However, if your blood alcohol content level is much higher than the allowable limit of 0.08%, higher penalties might apply. For the first DWI offense, you might only spend a few days in jail. However, for subsequent DWI offenses, you might spend several months or even up to a year in jail.
A second DWI offense in Texas is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and a more extended jail sentence, usually several months to one year. If you have three or more DWI offenses on your record, you'll face felony charges, which could lead to the suspension of your driver's license. You might lose your driving privileges in Texas for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 2 years.
Based on your DWI lawyer's negotiation skills and the judge's discretion, the court might reduce your DWI sentencing and fines, even for a 3rd Degree felony DWI. Your lawyer may negotiate with the court to reduce your DWI penalties in exchange for other court-approved agreements. These court-approved agreements may also involve fees, but in most cases, the applicable fees are lower than fees associated with felony DWI convictions. The agreements might include:
- Payment of a monthly supervisory fee of around $60
- Paying for driver education classes whose costs range between $70 and $200
- Regular reporting to a probation office
- Engaging in community service for designated hours every week
DWI Court Costs
You must incur a cost to appear in a DWI court even if you only need to appear in court for the bail hearing or an arraignment. You have to make multiple court appearances and incur additional costs if your case proceeds to trial. In most cases, court costs range between $300 and $500. However, an experienced DWI lawyer can negotiate to reduce these costs by negotiating for your DWI case’s out-of-court settlement.
DWI Bail Costs
After an arrest for DWI in Texas, you have to pay bail to get out of jail as you wait to appear in court at a later date. The judge will set the bail amount depending on several factors. The bail amount for a DWI charge in Texas may range between $100 and $100,000 or even higher. You might have a lenient bail judgment for misdemeanor DWI charges, mainly after committing a first-time DWI offense.
You might be subject to a stiffer bail sentence if aggravating factors like multiple DWI and very high BAC are present. A higher bail amount may apply if you face charges for vehicular manslaughter or assault. You, a friend, or family member can post bail for you, and you can also have a bail bond company pay bail on your behalf at a fee. The bail amount serves as an assurance that you will appear in court for all the necessary court proceedings.
The bail bond system allows defendants facing a DWI charge to go home instead of staying in jail after posting the required bail amount. You will get the entire bail amount after the DWI case as long as you make all the required court appearances and adhere to all the court orders issued by the judge.
The exact bail amount that the judge will set depends on several factors:
- Your past DWI convictions
- Other convictions on your record that might suggest that you might be violent, dangerous, or at a high risk of fleeing after release from jail
- Your willingness to submit to mandatory chemical testing to determine your BAC level
- Other aggravating crimes that you might have committed during the DWI offense including intoxicated manslaughter or assault
Not everyone convicted of DWI in Texas is subject to jail time, especially for a first offense. However, probation is mandatory for all DWI convictions. After a DWI conviction in Texas, you might be subject to a 12-month DWI probation. However, first-time offenders are often subject to probation of six months. Repeat offenders might face longer probation periods, especially if aggravating factors are present. You have to pay probation fees between $60 and $100 every month during the probation. You also have to regularly meet with the probation officer, which will cost you more because of the time spent away from work.
DWI Restitution Fees
The court might order you to pay DWI restitution fees if you caused bodily harm or property damage while intoxicated. The DWI restitution fees will vary depending on the extent of harm or damage inflicted. Your DWI lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to ensure that the court imposes reasonable restitution fees that correlate with the actual damage. The DA might demand high restitution amounts without a valid basis. However, as long as you have an experienced DWI lawyer, the prosecutor or the DA can't take advantage of you. Your lawyer can also negotiate for a longer repayment period for the restitution amount to ensure that you won't struggle with a substantial monthly repayment amount.
Texas DWI Surcharges
Effective 2003, every person convicted of DWI in Texas must comply with the Texas Driver Responsibility Program. This program requires defendants to make an annual payment of $1,000 for three years. These charges apply even after a first-time DWI conviction. Other charges might apply depending on the circumstances of your DWI offense as follows:
- For a BAC limit of 0.16% or higher, or if the BAC level is double the allowable limit, a surcharge of $2,000 may apply.
- If you were driving without a valid license at the time of the DWI arrest, a further surcharge of $250 per year might apply.
- If you were driving without insurance at the time of DWI arrest, you might be subject to a surcharge fee of $250
Driving and Insurance Costs Associated with DWI Convictions
After a DWI conviction in Texas, you will be subject to a higher auto insurance premium because insurance companies will consider you a high-risk driver. After the reinstatement of your driver's license, you have to carry the minimum auto insurance coverage to continue driving. Minimum auto insurance coverage is mandatory before the reinstatement of your driver's license after a DWI offense.
License Reinstatement and SR22 Requirement
You have to obtain an SR-22 before the reinstatement of your driver's license after a DWI conviction. The SR-22 certificate serves as proof of financial responsibility insurance. It's a mandatory requirement for the two years following a DWI conviction. The SR-22 requirement may apply for up to five years if you have multiple DWI convictions. If you are required to obtain an SR-22, you should expect an increase of $200 or more in your auto insurance premiums. The cost of the financial responsibility certificate ranges between $20 and $100 per month.
All drivers convicted of a DWI offense must show an SR-22 to maintain their driver's license. This applies to all drivers convicted of a DWI crime, including driving under the influence of drugs or prescription medication. Even the non-owners of a vehicle in which a DWI crime was committed must carry the SR-22. If you let your SR-22 lapse due to non-payment or cancellation of the underlying policy, the Texas Department of Public Safety will suspend your driver's license.
DWI License Suspension Costs
The DWI license suspension will result in additional costs because you still have places to visit. Without a license, it'll be impossible for you to drive to school, work, or the grocery store. Therefore, you may need to rely on Fort Worth's public transportation. Even if public transportation is relatively inexpensive, it's time-consuming. You may have to request your family or friends for rides leaving you at the mercy of their schedules. However, you may have challenges in the face of an emergency, especially when you need urgent medical care.
The other option when you don't have a driver's license is taking costly taxis or rideshares. All these DWI inconveniences and the associated costs can add up quickly. It might cost between $60 and $1,800 based on your commute needs, even for a one-month license suspension. Hiring an experienced DWI lawyer can help you retain your driver's license and save you the hassles and costs of finding alternative means of transport.
After an arrest for DWI in Texas, you may have a license suspension for two reasons. Your DWI lawyer can help you book a license suspension hearing where you can oppose the license suspension. You have 15 days from the date of the DWI arrest to booking the license hearing. A license suspension hearing is important even if you don't prevail because it's a valuable tool for gathering information for your criminal case. Two reasons that often lead to license suspension after a DWI arrest are:
- Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test
- Consenting to a blood test, but your BAC is .08% or above.
After your DWI arrest, the police will explain to you the consequences of consenting to a blood or breath test. The officer will also explain the consequences of refusing to submit to a DWI test, which is the automatic suspension of your driver's license.
If you submit to a DWI test, but you fail the test, you will face a license suspension for 90 days. If you refuse to submit to a DWI test, you'll face a license suspension for 180 days, irrespective of the test result.
Second, DWI offenders might face license suspensions for up to one year if they consent to the test and fail. A license suspension of up to 2 years might apply if a repeat DWI offender refuses to submit to a chemical test.
In the past, refusing a breath test in Texas meant that the law enforcement officers would not have any evidence against you. For many people, preventing the police from getting this evidence against them was worth the license suspension and the accompanying penalties. However, after the proliferation of blood testing in Texas, refusing to submit to a breath test does not mean the police won't obtain evidence against you. Texas law allows the police to obtain a search warrant and draw your blood for testing. Therefore, even if you refuse to submit to a test, the police will still get your blood and charge you with chemical test refusal.
Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
Depending on your BAC level at the time of arrest and the number of DWI convictions on your record, the court might order you to install an ignition interlock device. This is a device that stops your vehicle from starting before you breathe into the device. The IID works in the same way as a Breathalyzer by sensing the presence of alcohol in your breath.
If you breathe into the IID and detect alcohol in your breath, your vehicle can't start. To rent the IID device, you should expect a monthly cost of $70 to $100. In some instances, your DWI lawyer may negotiate so that you won't have to install the IID device. Your lawyer may also negotiate to reduce the period you'll need to have the IID device.
The ignition interlock device must be installed in every vehicle that you drive. Therefore, if you have several vehicles and you intend to keep driving them, you have to install an IID in each. There's an option for an in-home device for defendants who don't own vehicles.
If you blow into the IID after consuming alcohol, your vehicle won't start. Worse still, the interlock company will report your failure to the DWI court. When the judge learns about the positive alcohol reading, they might decide to revoke the bond and place you in jail. Many courts will issue a warning before issuing an arrest warrant. It can be challenging to operate with an IID device in your vehicle. The infrared technology in the IID device might not distinguish between mouthwash and alcohol. Mouthwash use might set off the device leading to an underserved arrest.
Vehicle Impoundment Fees
The law enforcement officers tow your vehicle away and impound it. You'll incur high towing fees ranging between $200 and $400. For every day that your vehicle stays in the impound lot, you'll incur an additional daily storage fee of $25. You should contact a DWI lawyer immediately because the impoundment fees can pile up quite fast. Contact a DWI attorney as soon as possible helps you to avoid the hefty vehicle impoundment fees.
Time is a valuable asset because most people work for a living and receive compensation based on the hours worked. After a DWI conviction, the court might impose up to 100 hours of community service. This translates to 100 hours of work without pay. It also means that you could miss valuable time with your family and time to attend other important events. Depending on your occupation, you may have to take some time off to attend mandatory service or mandatory drug and alcohol classes. Some employers might not be understanding, which might lead to disciplinary action or termination.
Find a Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer Near Me
The cost of a DWI in California will vary greatly depending on a defendant's criminal history, the severity of the DWI charge, and the presence of aggravating factors. However, one of the important factors that determine how much a DWI charge costs is the choice of a DWI attorney. Even if hiring an experienced DWI attorney comes at a cost, an attorney could save you many DWI related costs in the end. If you face DWI charges in Texas, Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer can help you fight the charges. Contact us at 817-470-2128 and speak to one of our attorneys.