How Much Does a DWI Cost in Houston, TX?

When we talk about DWI, DUI Costs in Houston, TX or anywhere in Texas, we need to realize the following two things:

  1. Lawyer fees are just one part of the overall equation.  But the right lawyer is extremely important as they can save you the big expenses in the long run.
  2. You will potentially be subject to additional fees and charges from the county, the state, DPS, the court.

DWI Lawyer Fees

Finding the right lawyer is the most important part of the process.  The right lawyer can potentially save you thousands and thousands of dollars.

Most experienced Houston DUI lawyers charge from $4,000 – $20,000 or more depending on the severity of the case.  A first DWI with no complications might be on the lower end, where an Intoxication Manslaughter case with multiple deaths will be extremely costly.

This article is talking mostly about monetary fees associated with DWIs, but we can never forget that in the State of Texas DWI cases have other consequences.  The right lawyer can not only save you money, but can keep you out of jail! How much are you going to lose if you are locked up?

Costs Related To A DWI Conviction in Texas

Below is a summary of potential DWI-related fees that extend beyond the attorney fees.

Towed Vehicle Costs

When you are arrested for DWI there is a car involved.  If you go to jail, the vehicle is going to get towed. Typically, the rate to get a car out of impound is in the range of $200 for one day, plus a fee for each additional day.  If you are in jail for a week or more, this fee can get very costly.

Houston DWI Lawyer Cost and FeesBond

Once you are arrested, some counties will give you a bond.  The bond is going to depend on many things, including the severity of the crime, if this is your 1st DWI, or if you have had multiple, if there was a child in the car, if someone was injured, if someone was killed, etc.  Bonds can range from $1000 to $100,000 or more. You would have to pay a bail bond company about 10% if you cannot front all the money.

Pre-Trial Supervision

Some counties, especially Harris County, are going to a system of personal recognizance (PR) bonds.  These are what people like to call “Free Bonds”….but they are anything but free. You get out of jail without having to pay anything, but the court will usually put you on pre-trial supervision with conditions (see below).  But just by being placed on a PR bond you are looking at $40-$60 a month to be on pre-trial supervision. If your case lasts one year that is $480-$720 more out of your pocket.

Drug Tests

If you are on a PR bond you are likely looking at drug tests.  These drug tests can be random, or they can be every court date.  The costs of the drug tests range from $10 – $50. If your case last a year and you do 2 tests a month you are looking at another $120 – $600.

Interlock

When you are arrested for a DWI the judge has the option to put an Ignition Interlock device in your vehicle or in your home. And interlock is a breath test machine that you need to blow into so the court can monitor whether you have been drinking. Interlocks are mandatory if it is a 2nd or more.  If it is your first DWI it is discretional on the court.  Judges are more likely to give you an interlock if your breath or blood test comes back over .15.  At a cost of $75 – $125 a month (plus a $75 install fee), the fees can be very costly over time.

Scram Device

If you end up in the wrong court where the judge requires a Scram device, or if you have problems following the rules and the judge requires a Scram device you are going to feel it in your pocket.  A Scram device is an ankle monitor that you wear 24 hours a day that gives constant updates on whether you have been drinking. Scram device rental fees range from $385 to $550 a month depending on the rental company.  To say this is expensive is an understatement.

Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Fees

In order to save your license you need to request an ALR hearing.  Once a hearing is set your lawyer will have to pay a process server anywhere from $80 – $200 to track down and serve the officer that is needed for the hearing.  If multiple officers are involved this can be very costly. If the officers show up to the hearing you are looking at another $10 – $100 per officer for a witness fee (depending on where they are stationed in comparison to the location of the hearing).

Occupational License

If you happen to lose your license because you did not request your ALR on time, or if you lose your ALR (or if your license was already suspended) then you will have to apply for an occupational license.  This would require you to be on pre-trial supervision, install an interlock, and potentially have drug tests (if you aren’t already doing this). Additionally, you would have to pay a filing fee to the county which can range anywhere from $200 – $400.

SR-22 Costs

If you are applying for an occupational, a judge might require an SR-22 insurance.  An SR-22 is basically a certificate of insurance where an insurance company assures that you are covered.  It is a type of vehicle liability document that is offered for high risk policies. The words “high risk” and insurance do not go well together.  While getting the SR-22 might only be $20-$50 a month, or more if paid in full, it can cause your insurance premiums to explode.

Pre-Paid Insurance

Some judges also require pre-paid insurance for an occupational license.  Most often they require 6 months of pre-paid insurance. If your monthly policy is $100, that is $600 out of your wallet in full just to be able to drive.

License Reinstatement Fee

Once your license suspension is over, you will have to pay fees to DPS in order to get your license back.  The reinstatement fees is $125 plus $10 for your new license.

Car Insurance Rate Increase

If you get a DWI on your record, you are going to be considered high risk.  Your policy could skyrocket. It could make it to where you cannot afford to drive!  It is extremely important to have a competent lawyer that understands this. No one wants to spend an additional $2,000 a year for insurance!  That is money in the garbage.

Court Costs

If you are convicted the court can charge court costs that can range from $400 – $600.  Another reason to try to avoid a conviction!

Pre-Trial Intervention Fees

Sometimes individuals apply for and are accepted into a special program called a pre-trial intervention.  In Harris County it costs $600 to enter the program, and then $40 – $60 a month. You are also required to have an interlock ($75 – $125 a month), take drug tests ($10 – $20 a month), take classes ($35 – $125), take treatment programs ($100 – $500), and possibly make some sort of contribution.

Lost Wages

You have to consider what a DWI can do to your wages if you are hourly.  Some individuals go to court 10-20 times. This is potentially 10 to 20 days missed of work.  If you are hourly, this can be very costly for you.

Loss Of Job

You also must consider the possibility that your job finds out about the DWI and fires you.  This is especially possible if you are required to drive your personal or a company vehicle for work.  If you lose your driver’s license, the company is going to have no use for you. The costs of having a job and then being unemployed can be astronomical.

Treatment Programs

At times the judge or your lawyer will require you to take some sort of alcohol or drug treatment programs.  While some programs are free, many charge fees in order to complete their programs. You are possibly looking at anywhere from $25 – $200 per session.

Fines For DWI in Texas

In September of 2019 the law changed in Texas.  There are no more surcharges for DWI convictions.  Now a conviction will result in these additional mandatory fines:

  • $3,000 for the 1st DWI in a 36 month period
  • $4,500 for a subsequent DWI in a 36 month period
  • $6,000 if the driver had a breath or blood test over .15

That is a substantial amount of money.  You might avoid this by hiring an experienced DWI lawyer to keep this DWI case off of your record.

Find Houston DWI Lawyers

As you can see, being charged with DWI is no joke.  You can be looking at thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in consequences for being charged and/or convicted of DWI.

It is extremely important to get the right lawyer.  Too many people hire the bargain basement lawyers. What they don’t realize, is the bit of money they save on the front end is costing them THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars on the back end.

Protect yourself, protect your criminal record, and protect your future.

Houston DUI FAQ

What other costs are associated with DWI?

Of course, there is the huge cost of possibly hurting yourself, or someone else. Attorneys fees, bonding out, towed vehicle, insurance rate increases, court fees, etc. We have a long list of all possible costs in this article.

Do you offer free consultations?

Most criminal defense attorneys, including DWI lawyers will offer a free consultation over the phone. Give our office a call for a case evaluation.

Can I beat a DWI in Houston?

It's possible in some cases. There are many reasons why the prosecutor may not be able to obtain a conviction. You should contact a lawyer immediately.