HOUSTON – LEGAL – Texas is one of the harshest states in the nation when it comes to the consequences of being charged with a DWI. It’s not just about fines and court costs, either — the fallout of having a DWI conviction in Houston can be both life-altering and far-reaching. If you are wondering about how much it will cost you, the Texas Department of Transportation recently released statistics showing how much the average person pays as a result of being both arrested for and found guilty of a DWI. Before they investigated just the financial costs, many — both in the justice system and beyond — had no idea how much it actually costs to defend yourself or to pay if you are found guilty.
The first expense to expect is that your car will be towed if you are arrested for a DWI. Since the arresting officers take you to the police station, your car is usually towed and impounded. The tow and impound fees alone cost over $300, which you are required to pay, even if the charges are dismissed and you are found not guilty.
Once you are arrested, you will have to appear before a judge and go through the arraignment process. During this process, you will be informed of the charges that are being filed in your case. The judge will usually set a “bail” amount. The bail is posted to ensure that if they let you out of prison, you will be more likely to show for your court date. If you don’t show up in court when you are supposed to, then you will lose the money you posted for bail. The bail is usually anywhere from $200 to $5000, depending on the risk you pose of skipping court. Although it’s a hefty cost, you do get that money back when you appear. But most people have to borrow money to post bail, and you are responsible for paying for any interest that the borrowed money incurs, whether or not you are found guilty.
The next step to a DWI charge is to hire a professional DWI attorney in Houston, to help build a defense against your DWI charges. That’s not a small expense: a good attorney will cost anywhere from $300 to $10,000 when all is said and done. The more experienced the attorney or the more complicated the case is, the more money you will end up paying. You can choose to use a public defender, but your chances of winning your case are usually greatly diminished. Due to their extended caseloads, in most instances, a public defender simply can’t spend the time necessary to build a winning defense.
Since someone has to pay for all the court fees associated with prosecuting your case, those costs become your responsibility. Court costs can range anywhere from $200 to $1500. The next expense you will face is going before the judge to determine whether or not you will have your license suspended awaiting trial. The fees and charges for that court appearance will be an additional $200 to $1500.
The fines are substantial if you are found guilty if a DWI in Houston; generally the fines alone run anywhere from $200 to $2000. If you are found guilty, your insurance will increase anywhere from $200 to $2400 a year, and you will have to pay a Driver Responsibility fee of $1000 a year for the next three years after conviction. There are also times when guilty defendants may have to pay for mandatory equipment like ignition interlock systems, which can be about $5000 per year.
Without even considering the consequences to your reputation and potentially to your career, the cost of a DWI in Houston can be exorbitant — especially if you are found guilty. To make sure that you minimize the costs, the key is to find a Houston DWI lawyer who can build an appropriate defense to save you both money and other consequences. Spending the money to hire the best lawyer can end up saving you a whole lot more in the long term.