DWI Traffic Fines FAQ
WHAT ARE THE DWI TRAFFIC FINES?
These are new fines that apply when someone is convicted of a DWI. The law took effect on Sept. 1st, 2019. The "traffic fines" replace the "surcharge" that used to be charged on a conviction.
THERE ARE NO "SURCHARGES" ANYMORE?
Correct. All of the old surcharges were wiped out (repealed). Everything from now on is called a "fine." It is the same thing but with a different name.
ISN'T THERE ALSO A POTENTIAL FINE ON THE CRIMINAL CASE?
Yes. There are two types of potential fines. One based on the criminal case and one based on a DWI conviction.
HOW MUCH ARE THE DWI TRAFFIC FINES?
$3000 for a conviction on the 1st DWI offense within a 36 month period. $4500 for a conviction on a 2nd DWI offense within 36 months. And $6000 for a DWI conviction with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .15 or more.
WHO DO I HAVE TO PAY?
You will likely get a call or a letter from the Travis County Tax Office. They will tell you that you owe the fine.
DO YOU HAVE TO PAY IT ALL AT ONCE?
No. But sometimes they will say you have to pay it in 90 days. This is NOT true. The law says you have 36 months. When pressed, they will offer payment plans (roughly $100/month).
What happens if I don't pay? Will they suspend my license?
Nothing happens if you don't pay as far as I can tell. They will not suspend your license.
WILL I ALSO HAVE TO PAY FINES ON THE CRIMINAL COURT SIDE?
Probably. But there is a lot more flexibility with the fines in the criminal court side. Those fines can be negotiated with the prosecutors. The DWI traffic conviction fines cannot be negotiated away (if you are stuck with a DWI conviction).
WILL I HAVE TO PAY THE FINES IF I GET DEFERRED ADJUDICATION PROBATION ON A DWI? OR IF THE CASE IS DISMISSED?
IS THERE ANY WAY TO AVOID PAYING THE DWI TRAFFIC FINES?
If the judge decides that you are "indigent" (without the financial means to pay) - the judge can waive the fines. The judge will make their decision after reviewing an indigence form/application that you can fill out. I've included one you can download below. If you decide to claim indigence, fill it out, take a good picture of it, and email it to us.
ISN'T THE INDIGENCE FORM FOR REQUESTING A COURT APPOINTED ATTORNEY?
Yes. But you can ignore that aspect of the form. The judge will use the financial information you provide to evaluate for the fines as well.
ANY ADVICE FOR FILLING OUT THE INDIGENCE FORM?
Well, you have to tell the truth. It is a crime to fraudulently fill it out. But definitely identify any debts that you have (school loans, mortgage, vehicle loans, etc.). Do you have any kids? Are you responsible for anyone else? Do you receive any government assistance? Anything that weakens your financial situation (and is true) should be mentioned.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE AND STILL BE CONSIDERED INDIGENT?
It depends. The law says that to be considered indigent, you need to make less than 125% of the federal poverty guideline ($12760 for 1 person) which equals approx. $16k. However, the Judges will not be that strict. They will take other factors into account.
SHOULD I BRING FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS IF THEY SHOW MY DIRE FINANCIAL SITUATION?
Yes. Bring them with you to court (when you expect to plea to the DWI conviction). Also email them to us when you send us the indigence form.
I'M NOT INDIGENT BUT I STILL CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY THE FINES.
We will do our best to convince the judge to waive them. But the judge won't want to risk any political blowback by waiving fines without a good reason. They are obligated to follow the law.
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS.
No problem. Give us a call – (512) 472-1113 – we’re happy to answer any questions. Or you can e-mail us.