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The Laws and Losses of a DWI

The human toll of drunk driving is tragic, but there are also legal and financial costs for the driver that are a nightmare to deal with. Alcohol and asphalt just don't mix. If you're drinking, always find a sober ride home. Drinking and driving isn't worth it.

Here’s the Law

In Texas, a person is legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with DWI with a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration). However, a person is also intoxicated if impaired due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. Drivers and passengers can be fined up to $500 for having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.


It is illegal for anyone under 21 to buy, have or drink alcohol in any way, shape or form. That means it’s illegal to drive with ANY alcohol in your system. Here’s what happens the first time you’re pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), if you’re under 21:

  • Up to a $500 fine if you’re under 17, or up to a $2,000 fine if you’re between the age of 17 and 20
  • Loss of a driver’s license from 60 days up to one year
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service
  • Mandatory alcohol awareness classes


  • Up to six months behind bars
  • $250 to $2,000 fine
  • Loss of driver’s license up to two years
  • Potential criminal penalties

Penalties increase with each DWI conviction.

A DWI Can Cost Up to $17,000 in Fines and Fees

The cost of a DWI in Texas ranges from place to place. See how the costs could add up:

  • 1st DWI offense fine: $250 to $2,000
  • Bail: up to $1,000
  • Court costs: up to $500
  • Attorney fees: varies, but average is up to $9,400
  • Probation fees (12 months): up to $1,200
  • Alcohol Education Course: $70 to $200
  • Increased car insurance: about $1,000
  • Car impound and towing fee: about $200
  • Car storage fees (up to 5 days): $100
  • Ignition interlock device (12 months): $1,400
  • Restitution amounts: not included


Here Are Some Other Consequences of a DWI

  • You can lose your job or have difficulty finding future employment due to background checks.
  • You can struggle to find housing. Many landlords and apartment complex management companies run background checks before agreeing to a lease.
  • If you are divorced and have children, your custody rights could be impacted by a DWI conviction.
  • You can lose more than your driver’s license. Medical licenses, pilot licenses and commercial driver’s licenses can all be revoked with a DWI.
  • For felony charges, you can lose the right to vote or own a gun.
  • An obnoxious amount of paperwork and hassle.
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