There is much said on the tragic consequences of driving while intoxicated (DWI). The wreck, the injuries, and deaths garner our attention over other aspects of driving under the influence.

What doesn’t make headlines is the dramatic effect a DWI has on the drunk driver and his or her family. Aside from the embarrassment, there is the drunk driving court costs, lawyers fees and quite possibly the loss of income necessary to support a family.

The state of Texas, for example, has serious financial and social consequences for even a first time offender. For a first offense, a driver convicted of a DWI could face:

  • Up to 180 days in a county jail
  • Up to $2,000 in fines and a
  • Drivers license suspension of 90 days to one year.

A second DWI conviction can mean up to one year in jail, up to $4,000 in fines and suspension of a driver’s license of 180 days to 2 years.

The third offense is considered a felony and the serious consequences consist of:

  • Up to 10 years in jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • A driver’s license suspension of 180 days to 2 years

The laws governing minors driving while under the influence are absolute. The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for a minor is zero. Any detectable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system is illegal.

Texas Drunk Driving Court Costs Go Up

A new surcharge law in Texas , passed in 2003, mandates anyone convicted of a DWI in Texas must pay a surcharge in order to maintain their Texas driver’s license. The following fees are in effect:

  • $1,000 per year for a person with no prior DWI convictions;
  • $1,500 per year for a person who has been previously convicted of a DWI within 36 months; or
  • $2,000 per year for a person who gives a blood, breath, or urine specimen, which shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or higher.

A review of the fines and sentences leaves little doubt of the seriousness by which the State of Texas places on DWI offenses. It also leaves little to the imagination for the affects these charges will have on families where members have received convictions involving drinking and driving.

The impact is severe. With heavy fines, loss of income and the embarrassment of serving jail or even prison time, it is unlikely the family unit can ever be the same. The best course of action is to drink responsibly, use a breathalyzer before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle if one is available, and just don’t drive if your BAC is above the legal limit.