Many people respond to an arrest for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense by immediately pleading guilty. Even when they claim that there was an issue with the breath test or otherwise maintain their innocence, they may plead guilty because they assume that they simply cannot defend themselves.
Those who recognize that a defense is possible may dismiss it as the less financially responsible decision. People frequently assume that a guilty plea is the more cost-effective solution because then they don’t have to pay as much for legal representation.
However, when you look into the true cost of a DWI, defending yourself may actually be the better option financially.
Fines and court costs
One of the standard penalties imposed for impaired driving is a large fine. The fines the state imposes can be significant all on their own. A first DWI could lead to up to $2,000 in fines, while a third DWI could mean up to $10,000 in fines.
Defendants also have to pay numerous other expenses, like licensing fees. A defendant may have to pay several hundred dollars in court courts in a typical DWI case and could be more in certain scenarios.
Increased insurance costs and IID fees
Some drivers will install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) as part of regaining their driving privileges. It can cost hundreds of dollars annually to install and maintain an IID in a vehicle in addition to paying more for insurance.
Adult drivers in Texas pay an average of $1,415 for insurance coverage annually. The cost to insure a vehicle will increase to $2,178 after a DWI conviction. That’s a 54% increase, and those higher rates could apply for several years.
Any time that you serve in state custody is time when you cannot earn your standard wages. The charges against you could also lead to future lost earning potential because you can no longer pass a background check without first explaining the DWI on your record.
Depending on your profession, a DWI might even affect your ability to maintain Professional Licensing or to perform the basic responsibilities of your job. Workers could also end up getting fired when they are subject to license restrictions and cannot reliably get to work on time every day.
The total cost of pleading guilty to a DWI charge will likely be well over $10,000 over the course of several years, possibly far more. Recognizing the true financial impact of a DWI charge can help you see the value in defending yourself instead of pleading guilty.