Every defendant convicted of DWI in Texas faces a surcharge or “tax” from DPS.

This surcharge is to be paid as a penalty for maintaining your driver’s license for three years from the date of the conviction.

What Is a DWI Surcharge?

Surcharges are basically a tax or penalty that the Texas Department of Public Safety requires people to pay if they are convicted on a DWI.

These surcharges can be very expensive. For example, if you are convicted on a misdemeanor DWI with BAC above .15 your total surcharge is $4500!


They can vary from $1000 a year for three years up to $1500 a year for three years, based on the circumstances of the case.

If these amounts are not paid, the state can make your driver’s license invalid.

Many Judges Are Realizing Surcharges Are Overkill for Someone Convicted of a DWI

Many defendants find it impossible to pay these surcharges and then their license gets suspended and it turns into a hole they can’t dig out of.

The remedy to legally avoid paying these surcharges is to have your attorney file a WAIVER OF SURCHARGE motion.

At your final court hearing, your attorney can ask you questions on the record regarding your financial situation.

Many judges are very sympathetic to the financial hardships these surcharges impose and they will waive them. Some judges want written documentation but many will sign a surcharge waiver based on testimony alone.

Some judges will now waive all DWI surcharge fees with a court order. Some won’t waive all surcharges but will reduce them.

The best way to avoid DWI surcharges is to not be convicted in the first place. If your case is dropped or reduced to another charge you do not have to pay surcharges.

If you are facing a DWI or any criminal charge, call the Law Office of Lance Turnbow at 512-392-4756.