Historically, if you were charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, you face the possibility of being assessed surcharges by the Department of Public Safety. These fees were assessed in addition to any other fines and court costs you may be assessed and are also separate from any other penalties against your driver's license such as suspension, revocation or restrictions like requiring you to drive with an interlock device. The amount of a surcharge depended on the number of points that you have on your driving record as well as the nature of your conviction.
The surcharge program ended on September 1, 2019 and Texas removed surcharges that were in effect.
Surcharges are NO LONGER a reason for any license to be suspended.
Texas Surcharges Based on Points
If you are convicted of a driving offense in Texas, you will have points added to your driving record. The number of points varies according to the nature of the offense. Points can be accumulated from an out-of-state conviction as well as driving offenses that are committed within the state of Texas. Two points are assessed for each out-of-state conviction, and an additional point is assessed for each out-of-state offense that involved a car accident. A point is deducted for each year that you do not commit a driving offense.
If you accumulate six points or more, you will be assessed a $100 surcharge each year that you carry six points or more on your driving record. You will be assessed an additional $25 for each additional point that you accumulate after six points. You will be notified by mail each time a surcharge is added to your account. If you are eligible to take a defensive driving course, you may be able to avoid surcharges being assessed based on points accumulated on your record.
Surcharges Based on Criminal Convictions
Surcharges are also assessed based on certain types of convictions. They are assessed after the Department of Public Safety receives notice from the court of the conviction. You will not be assessed a surcharge merely for being charged with a driving offense, but only after you are found guilty or plead guilty. You may be assessed conviction-based surcharges for the following offenses:
- Driving without a valid driver's license - $100 surcharge
- Driving without insurance – up to $250 surcharge
- First offense driving while intoxicated (in-state or out-of-state conviction) - $1,000 surcharge
- Intoxication assault or DWI manslaughter - $1,000 surcharge
- Subsequent DWI offense - $1,500 surcharge
- Subsequent intoxication assault or DWI manslaughter - $1,500 surcharge
- DWI conviction with a BAC level of 0.16 or greater (in-state or out-of-state conviction) -$2,000 surcharge
Assessment and Payments for Surcharges
Surcharges are assessed yearly for a period of three years. It may be possible to get surcharges waived or reduced if you meet certain income guidelines and submit proof that you cannot afford to pay the surcharges.
For example, if you were assessed a surcharge for driving without insurance, you may be able to get the surcharge waived by submitting proof of insurance if you had insurance at the time that you were charged with the offense. If you did not have insurance at the time but later obtain insurance, you may be able to get the surcharge reduced to $125 by submitting proof that you have obtained insurance and have prepaid it for the next 6 months.
You may be able to submit payments for surcharges in advance if the offense was driving without a valid driver's license or driving while intoxicated. You may not submit payment in advance for surcharges that have been assessed based on points on your driving record since this can vary from year to year. If you need to make partial payments, processing fees and fees for making a payment with a debit or credit card may be assessed.
Consequences of Not Paying Surcharges
Previously, if you failed to pay a surcharge, your driver's license would be suspended. This can put you at risk for accumulating additional driving offenses if you continue to drive without a license. This will occur automatically if you fail to pay a surcharge, and you may have your driver's license suspended without being notified if you have changed your mailing address without providing notice.
Consult Austin, Texas DWI attorney Jason S. English
It is important to never plead guilty to a DWI without speaking to a criminal defense attorney and to ensure that you have an experienced DWI lawyer on your side to avoid the harsh consequences and costs of a DWI conviction. If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas and you have questions about surcharges assessed by the Department of Public Safety, contact Texas DWI lawyer Jason S. English online or call (512) 454-7548 for more information.