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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

What is a DWI Traffic fine and how can I avoid paying it?

Added by House Bill 2048 in 2019, there is a new mandatory fine imposed for Driving While Intoxicated Convictions.

They are commonly referred to as a state traffic fine and range from $3,000 - $6,000 per offense. The law uses a timetable of 36 months (3 years) and lists the fines as follows.

First Driving While Intoxicated conviction within a 36 month period - $3,000

Second or greater conviction within a 36 month period - $4,500

Any conviction with an alcohol test greater than 0.15 at the time the analysis was performed - $6,000

The regular punishment range for Driving While Intoxicated first offense includes 0-180 days in jail and a fine of $0-$2000. Prosecutors typically do not seek the full $2,000. But the state traffic fine is mandatory and starts out at $1000 greater than the highest fine previously available.

So how do you get out of paying it? One way is to prove that you are indigent. This means proving to the court that you are unable to afford payment of the fine. The statute itself contemplates this and lays out possible means of proof. But the most likely method is by a competent lawyer asking you questions under oath in front of the trial judge while you are entering a plea of guilty. The statutory methods of proof are as follows:

(1) a copy of the person's most recent federal income tax return that shows that the person's income or the person's household income does not exceed 125 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines; (2) a copy of the person's most recent statement of wages that shows that the person's income or the person's household income does not exceed 125 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines; or (3) documentation from a federal agency, state agency, or school district that indicates that the person or, if the person is a dependent as defined by Section 152, Internal Revenue Code of 1986, the taxpayer claiming the person as a dependent, receives assistance from: (A) the food stamp program or the financial assistance program established under Chapter 31, Human Resources Code; (B) the federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children authorized by 42 U.S.C. Section 1786; (C) the medical assistance program under Chapter 32, Human Resources Code; (D) the child health plan program under Chapter 62, Health and Safety Code; or (E) the national free or reduced-price lunch program established under 42 U.S.C. Section 1751 et seq.

The poverty guidelines are available at

The best way to avoid these fines is to avoid a conviction in the first place. A conviction for driving while intoxicated can be avoided by completing a pretrial diversion, completing deferred adjudication, or obtaining a dismissal from the District Attorney based on legal argument and representation.

If you're worried about the costs of a DWI you should invest in an experienced defense attorney to help you navigate the confusing and imposing legal system. Call

936-596-0407 and claim your free consultation today.


For litigants who do not have counsel: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney client relationship. Call to set up a free consultation.

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