How much does a DWI cost in Travis County, Texas?

How much does a DWI cost in Travis County, Texas?

Hi. I'm Charlie Roadman, Austin criminal defense attorney, and today I'm going to tackle what I refer to as the holy grail of criminal defense informational videos, which is how much does the DWI cost. We get asked that question a lot and it's difficult to answer because we don't know the result of the case, and so what I decided to do was come up with basically the five main results of the case, the typical results. Every case is different, of course, but these are fairly five common resolutions. I'm going to start with the most expensive and sort of work backwards from there so I'm not trying to freak you out, but the first one is basically every expense that I could even think of that could possibly happen and then we'll move back from there.

Okay. This is the first hypothetical and it's based on someone that has been arrested for a DWI, first time, but the breath or blood was over .15. The BAC is over .15 so it's a Class A, and in this hypothetical the person ends up on probation for a Class A. Let me talk to you a little bit about the timeline. We've got the arrest and then about three months of administrative settings, not much is happening, and then you've got about nine months in negotiation with the prosecutor. The plea in this situation is here. We've got about two years of probation or community supervision. Probation is kind of what you imagine. There's a probation officer. You check in once a month and there's a whole bunch of things you have to do; community service, classes, you're not supposed to drink on probation. Anyway, we can talk about that more later, but this is the basic timeline.

The case ends and then there's a year after probation and you'll see why I need to put that here in a second. Let's talk about where the costs start. They of course start basically the first night, which is getting your car out of impound, and I'm estimating about 225 for that. You also will most likely get a personal bond and when it's a Class A and the BAC is higher they often have an ignition interlock device requirement and the bond costs a little more than normal. Normal's $40 but in this situation it's 120. Now, you've got your lawyer fee, and so they're different lawyers of course and some are cheaper than others. 5,000 is about the middle of road, that's what we're charging right now for a first time DWI. The way that works is you pay the down payment of 1,000 and then 500 a month until you get to that 5,000.

Now, the ignition interlock device requirement that's part of the bond condition on the Class A normally costs about $80 a month. Now, then you've got the CES evaluation, which is the counseling interview where they figure out what classes you need. Now, if it's a first DWI they're most likely going to say just this 12 hour DWI or DWIE class, and that's $90, and then now they typically want you to take a mad victim impact panel class, which is two hours, and that costs $25. Now, when your license gets suspended, which is 90% of the time, people who's arrested for DWI get their license suspended, there is a filing fee to get an occupational license. Depending on when this happens, it could be either $51 or 298, depending on the timeline. I'm putting 298 now just to do the higher fee just so you're not surprised.

When you get an occupational license you have to have SR-22 insurance. There's a broad range of how much that could cost but, on average, for someone with a decent driving record, it's about 170 down and then 60 a month. Typically, a license is suspended for six months, although it could be three. There's a driver's license reinstatement fee, that's 135, and then when you're on probation the probation fees, plus court costs, plus fines, they'll probate that out over the two year period, and that's roughly $90 a month for that two years. Now, there's also in a Class A, usually, not all the time, usually, they want an ignition interlock device for some period and it can be a year. It can be two, depending on how bad the facts of the case are, but I put down here a year at $80 a month for a year.

Then, one final indignity, they charge you to remove it from your car, $45 there. Now, probation will involve a couple drug tests. Assuming you pass, if you don't pass there's a whole bunch of them, but roughly three and about $10 a piece. Then finally, if you're convicted of a DWI there is a surcharge and that's $3,000 over three years. They'll prorate that to about $90 a month for that three year period. The total of all this is $13,173, give or take, for a Class A probation DWI conviction.

I'm going to stop right here because you might have a couple questions, the first one being, do you have to get an occupational license? The answer is no, you can just sit out the suspension. You would still have to pay the reinstatement fee, which would be 125 instead of 135. Second question, surcharges. Will you have to pay surcharges? The answer is yes, unless you and your attorney can convince the judge that you're indigent, and by that means your tax returns last year showed less than $17,000. It's difficult to convince them that you can't afford these surcharges but you and your attorney can try.

Then finally, a jury trial is always an option. This video really isn't about that. We can talk about that at another time, but you do of course have a right to have a jury trial. Okay, so let's talk about hypothetical number two. This is a Class B DWI conviction with probation, so the breath or blood was below .15 or there was no breath or blood at all. It's the same chronology arrest, administration, negotiation, plea. There's 18 months probation that's typical on a Class B and then the case ends and there's some more consequences after the case is over.

This front part is roughly the same. You've got the same amount to get your car out of the impound. The personal bond is 40 instead of 120. Lawyer fees going to be roughly the same so 5,000, CS evaluation, 12 hour class, two hour class, occupational license filing fee, SR-22 insurance, driver's license reinstatement fee. Then the probation is shorter and the fine is generally a little less so that works out to roughly $75 a month for 18 months. Then they'll still drug test you to make sure you're not using anything that you're not supposed to, and then there is still a surcharge on the DWI conviction. The difference here is you notice there's no ignition interlock device during this process. Of course, there can be, depending on the facts of the case, but in general in something like this there won't be. The total for this is $10,718. That is, of course, is an estimate.

Okay, hypothetical number three is a DWI conviction, but with jail time instead of probation. This is usually a situation where people choose to go to jail instead of being on probation so the timeline's a little different. We still have the arrest, three months administration, nine months negotiation plea, and then you have this one to 10 day in jail. Now, that will depend on the facts of the case and what you do up front and there's a handful of things that will affect that but that's a common result for a first DWI if the client chooses to go to jail.

Now, then you still have, after the case ends of course, because there's going to be surcharges. Same beginning, impound, personal bond, lawyer fee, evaluation, 12 hour class, two hour class, occupational filing fee, SR-22, driver's license reinstatement fee, and then court costs of 450 roughly on the DWI. Then you've got your surcharge again, and the total for this is $9,818. Okay, hypothetical number four is if your attorney is able to get the case dismissed by a reduction from a DWI to obstruction of a highway so let's talk about what that looks like. That's still probation but it can be deferred probation.

Let's look at this arrest. Same three months, nine months, DWI dismissed, plea of obstruction to a highway which is blocking a road. It's just like if we took this table and put it in the road, cars would get backed up, pretty soon the cops are going to show up and go, "Who's putting tables in the road?" That's what obstruction of a highway is. This 18 months is a typical probation on obstruction. It can be deferred, which means it's not even a conviction for the obstruction of a highway. The DWI, like I said, is dismissed, then you've got a little bit after the case is over.

Same beginning. The impound, bond, lawyers fee, classes, occupational license. Then I put this in here because often our clients do some sort of portable alcohol monitoring or even an IID but something up front to tip the scale to convince the prosecutor to reduce it to obstruction of a highway. In this scenario I just put three months of a portable alcohol monitor at 150 a month, and then you still got your probation fees at about $75 a month, and then you're still going to take a drug test.

Now, at the end of this you can seal your case and that costs roughly $1,600, about 500 of that is court costs. Sealing prevents civilian agencies from seeing the obstruction of a highway so we usually recommend doing that. You do have to wait roughly two years after the case is over. You'll see from this there is no surcharge there so when your DWI is dismissed there are no surcharges. The total for this 97.68, and that is with sealing the case.

Okay, hypothetical number five, we have worked out a dismissal of the DWI for a Class C ticket, typically like a speeding ticket or something like that. This is an extraordinary result on a DWI case and it will completely depend on the facts and how hard our clients work or are willing to do what they're willing to do. The beginning you've still got the same three months admin, nine months negotiation, the DWI is dismissed. Then there's typically a six month deferral period on the ticket. Okay. There's no probation or anything, it's just making sure you don't get in any other trouble and then the ticket's also dismissed so let's look at that. Still have the same front end, car out of impound, personal bond, lawyer fee, evaluation, 12 hour class, two hour class, occupational license, SR-22 insurance, and I put the portable alcohol monitor in this one as well. That's common if we're close to getting a ticket or if they're willing to do obstruction of a highway, we're always saying, "Okay, well look, what if we do a monitor to get down a classic ticket?"

Anyway, so put that in there. Then the ticket itself is $100 plus the court cost of 105. Then, the main thing that we want for all of our clients is the ability to expunge the case and that's to completely get it off the record, deleted, destroyed. Approximately two years later that costs 1600, about 500 of that is court costs and the rest is attorney's fees so the total for that type of result, if we can get it, is $8,593.

All right. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call or check out our website. I've made a lot of other informational videos about different parts of this process, the occupational license, SR-22 insurance, the driver's license hearing. Anyway, there's a lot of things on the video. Tab on my website, check it out.