Conviction-Based Surcharges in Austin
Being convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Austin can be costly in more ways than one. In addition to paying fines, having your license suspended, and possibly serving weeks or months of jail time, Austin drivers are also subject to a state system known as conviction-based surcharges –additional financial penalties which hit hard at the wallets of anyone convicted of DWI.
Basic Penalties vs. Surcharges
The basic penalties for DWI in Austin are far from lenient. On the first offense, drivers may be forced to pay a fine of up to $2,000, have their license suspended for up to a year, and even serve up to 6 months in jail. The picture doesn’t get much better; by the third offense, which is considered a felony crime, a conviction can cost up to $10,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, and up to two years of suspended license.
To make things worse, Texas law imposes the conviction-based surcharge system on drivers. This system is essentially an additional financial penalty on top of any fines that they may already be charged. Conviction-based surcharges are levied over a period of three years and quickly add up to incredible sums.
For example: A first-time DWI offense carries a conviction-based surcharge of $1,000 – that’s a thousand dollars paid three times over three years for a total of $3,000. Subsequent offenses will cost $1,500, also over three years, for a total of $4,500. The surcharge increases to $2,000 if the driver’s BAC is .16 or higher.
On top of that, conviction-based surcharge can stack on top of each other, meaning that offenses which occur in quick succession continue to rack up the fines.