Getting a DWI can be expensive. The average cost for a first-time conviction can be close to $10,000, which doesn't even include lost time from work or getting your car repaired. That's a lot of money wasted on a single instance of bad judgment, and a good reason to find a Fort Worth DWI lawyer to help get drunk driving charges dismissed, reduced, or expunged.
Costs of an Average DWI
Most people assume that it will not happen to them, but consider this NHTSA study that found 1/3 of all motorists will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some point 1in their lifetime. Depending on prior arrests and your blood alcohol content, expenses can pile up:
- Fines, which are in the thousands
- Monthly probation fees, ranging from $60 to $100
- Towing and impound lot storage fees
- DWI classes or alcohol treatment counseling
- Court costs
- Transportation fees incurred after having your license suspended
- Significant increase in automobile insurance premium
- Ignition lock device expense
- Lawyer fees
This is only a partial list. In order to get your driver's license reinstated in Texas, you'll have to pay an annual surcharge to the state for a full three years following the conviction.
- $1,000 a year for first-time offenders
- $1,500 a year for offenders arrested a second time
- Those with a high blood alcohol content, which is considered to be more than 0.15 are required to pay $2,000 a year, or a whopping $6,000 over 3 years.
Minimizing the Costs of a DWI
The most important thing you can do to limit the cost of a DWI and possibly even avoid conviction in the first place is to hire an attorney. You and your lawyer could attempt a plea bargain, which would allow you to plead guilty to a less serious charge, for instance driving with ability impaired.
If it is your first arrest, your lawyer may attempt to prove that your DWI is a one-time occurrence and that you are an upstanding citizen that follows the letter of the law. In a few cases, the courts can be convinced to sentence you to probation only, but require you to attend educational classes on responsible alcohol consumption.
How DWI Convictions Are Treated in Texas Compared to the Rest of the Country
Alcohol-related arrests are handled differently in each state, and penalties can vary widely. Wallethub did a comparison of all 50 states. Texas came in at unlucky number 13, which means it's almost in the top 10 toughest states for drunk drivers. Yet another reason to stay off the road if you've had a few too many.
In the aftermath of a DWI, some people are shocked to find out how severely a conviction impacts their criminal record. Sometimes you can lose the job you already have, and if you are looking for a new job, some employers will refuse to hire you. Sure, the charges may be able to be expunged from your record in some cases. But there is no guarantee that will happen, and it can take months to have the conviction removed from databases that your current or prospective employer may be looking at.
A DWI is a criminal charge that often has serious and long-lasting impacts on your future and finances. Pleading guilty and accepting the charges equals facing expensive fines, surcharges, and many years of sky-high insurance premiums, not to mention the immeasurable negative effect on your career. That's why it's vitally important to get compassionate, proactive legal representation from the very beginning.