Whether you plead guilty, no contest or a jury finds you guilty, the consequences for a DWI conviction can be staggering. Even if you have nothing else on your criminal record and this is your first DWI, you are facing costs as much as $50,000 or more. I have outlined below a summary of the consequences after a first DWI conviction, but if you are facing a second DWI or more, then the consequences can be even greater.
At the outset, it is important to know the criminal penalties described in the DWI statute. As a Class B Misdemeanor, the range of punishment for a standard DWI first conviction is up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine (learn more about the ranges of punishment in Texas law). In addition, Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code specifies that the minimum term of confinement is 72 hours in jail. Some or all of your jail term may be probated (depending on the judge and the specific DWI offense you are facing), meaning that you may or may not have to spend time in jail if you agree to community supervision (commonly referred to as probation). The criminal penalties can be enhanced in a variety of ways, including an enhancement for a BAC over .15, for DWI with a Child Passenger or having an open container in the car. All DWI offenses can be enhanced if you have a prior conviction for DWI. There is also a complex web of driver’s license penalties that you will be facing, some of which are described briefly below.
Here is a more detailed (but not comprehensive) list of penalties arising out of a DWI conviction for a misdemeanor DWI conviction that you should consider:
- Jail time of up to 180 days for a base DWI offense, which if enhanced can be up to one year or, if enhanced to a felony, even more time in the state penitentiary. If probated, you will have to remain on probation for a term of months to years.
- Criminal fines of up to $2,000 for a based offense, or up to $4,000 if enhanced to a felony, up to $10,000
- You will have a criminal conviction on your record that you cannot expunge or remove. Your employer, potential future employers and the general public will be able to see this if they do a background check. This can cost you a future job or even the loss of your current one. If you are facing a job loss, we consider this a High-Stakes Misdemeanor Defense.
- The loss of driver’s license. A judge may suspend your license as a result of a DWI conviction. To reinstate your license, you will have to pay a driver’s license reinstatement fee of $125. If you want to be able to drive while your license is suspended, you will have to apply for an occupational driver’s license. This is a complicated procedure, and unless you handle it yourself, you will have to pay a lawyer (we do not charge our DWI clients for this service, but otherwise we charge $200-500). You will also have to pay: county fees of $200-250 (in Dallas, the fee is $232 for misdemeanors) and a fee for SR-22 insurance.
- Court Costs, usually between $200 and $500
- Monthly probation reporting (involving missed time at work and paying for parking every time you come in)
- Multiple Court Appearances (this is more missed time at work and paying for parking every time you come in)
- 24-100 hours of Community Service
- M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel (3hrs)
- Monthly probation fees ($25-60 per month)
- Ignition Interlock Device ($75 per month per vehicle). This is a device that is installed on your car and prevents your car from operating unless you blow into the device and the device determines that you do not have any alcohol on your breath. You can be ordered to have this installed while you are on bond or under community supervision. The results are reported immediately to the court, and if you do not blow clean, your bond or your probation can be revoked. The average time to dispose a DWI case takes 8 months to one year, if you do not go to trial. If you go to trial, it frequently takes two years or more. Probation times vary, but you can get up to two years. Therefore, you are looking at 2-4 years of having an interlock on your car, but the device can be removed earlier under certain circumstances. On average, you are probably looking at 20 months of interlock fees, totaling $1,500. This can be greater if you are on you are enhanced, and you could even be required to have a Soberlink or ankle monitor device, entailing even higher monthly fees. Learn more about interlock devices
- A night in jail when you are arrested ($500 bail)
- Impound fees to get your car back ($85)
- Embarrassment & loss of Self Esteem
- Loss of social standing
- Attorney’s Fees in the thousands of dollars
- License Surcharge of $1000 per year for three years.
- “Home Visits” by probation officer
- Interference with employment – time missed from work
- Increased Insurance rates/Cancellation of Insurance (300% for 4 years)
- Stress and Anxiety of pending case