DWI Driver’s License Surcharges Are Expensive–Now There May be a Way For You to Waive Them by Bo Kalabus

By Bo Kalabus
bo@kalabuslaw.com
Office: 972-562-7549
24 Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364

No question about it, having to cope with a DWI conviction is a traumatic experience. First there is the stigma of the conviction itself. Second, and to some more importantly, is the expense that stems from the conviction. For example, people placed on DWI probation will have the following lighten their wallets: a fine, probation reporting fees–which could be as long as 24 months, DWI education class fees, court costs, and possibly the expense of having an ignition interlock device placed on their vehicle–the tube a person has to blow into to start their car. In extreme cases, a person may be ordered to wear a SCRAM device on their ankles–which monitors for drugs or alcohol in the system and can be as much as $300-$400 per month.

To add insult to injury, DPS gets its piece of the action too, by putting a surcharge on the convicted person’s driver’s license. On a DWI first, if a person’s blood alcohol is below a .15 a surcharge of $1,000 a year for a period of 3 years is imposed on their driver’s license. If the blood alcohol level is above a .15, the surcharge is increased to $2,000 a year for 3 years. This surcharge adds up and is a lot of money.

What happens if you can’t pay the surcharge? Simple, your driver’s license will be suspended and then there will be more fees and penalties to reinstate the license. However, for those that are financially limited and meet the requirements, there is relief.

In September 2011, the legislature enacted a mechanism to allow surcharges to be waived. Under Rule 708.158 of the Texas Transportation Code, a person can ask the court where he/she was convicted in (including the court where the person agreed to a plea) to waive the DPS surcharges. Before the court can grant the motion, the person must qualify as indigent by fitting into one of the following categories:

• A copy of Defendant’s most recent tax return, which reflects that Defendant’s income or personal income does not exceed 125 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines OR
• A copy of Defendant’s most recent statement of wages showing that Defendant’s income or household income does not exceed 125 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines OR
• Documentation from a federal agency, state agency, or school district indicating that Defendant receives assistance from the food stamp program or the financial assistance program established under Chapter 31 of the Human Resources Code OR the federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children authorized by 42 U.S.C. Section 1786 OR the medical assistance program under Chapter 32 of the Human Resources Code OR the child health plan program under Chapter 62 of the Health and Safety Code OR the national free or reduced-price lunch program established under 42 U.S.C. section 1751 et seq. OR
• Documentation from a federal agency, state agency, or school district indicating that Defendant is a dependent as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and the taxpayer claiming the person as a dependent receives assistance from the food stamp program or the financial assistance program established under Chapter 31 of the Human Resources Code OR the federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children authorized by 42 U.S.C. Section 1786 OR the medical assistance program under Chapter 32 of the Human Resources Code OR the child health plan program under Chapter 62 of the Health and Safety Code OR the national free or reduced-price lunch program established under 42 U.S.C. section 1751 et seq. OR
• Other documentation presented to this Court. (Such as an Affidavit of the person explaining special circumstances)

If you have been convicted of a DWI and you think you can qualify under the above criteria, this may be just the relief you need.

 

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