Texas DWI Laws evolve to meet public safety expectations perceived by our state legislature. The most recent update to the standard Penal Code provisions governing DWI charges eliminated the Driver’s License Surcharges for convictions and imposed the new “super fines”.
The old license surcharges permitted DPS to charge convicted drivers $1,000 a year for three years on a first offense, up to $2,000 a year for subsequent or aggravated offenses.
There was a tremendous issue with people not being able to afford these payments, and so DPS would revoke their driving privileges until they became current. Of course, people would still drive – but on a revoked license – then get pulled over, arrested, and then suffer another license suspension as a result. It was a tremendously vicious cycle with the hole getting deeper and deeper.
The new law repealed license surcharges but increased the fines to essentially the same levels. Almost all class B misdemeanors in Texas carry a maximum fine of $2,000. $4,000 is the max fine for class A misdemeanors, generally. However, final convictions for DWIs occurring on or after September 1, 2019, do not fit into this category. The new “super fines” for these DWIs are $3,000 for a first conviction, $4,500 for a subsequent conviction, and $6,000 for a conviction where it is shown that the person’s blood alcohol content was greater than .15 (a class A misdemeanor).
As you can see, these fines mirror the old surcharge amounts but remove DPS from the equation. However, nonpayment of court-ordered fines typically results in an arrest warrant rather than a driver’s license suspension.
You could possibly avoid the “super fines” in these cases sometimes, but you need an experienced DWI lawyer to help you. Exceptions exist for indigency status and pleas that do not result in a “final conviction.” A final conviction is a legal term with a specific meaning in the courts. Also, if your DWI arrest was prior to September 1, 2019, your case would fall into the former fine schedule for regular misdemeanors.
To discuss your DWI case further, please get in touch online or at (512) 858-8611!