Curious about the cost of bail in Texas and how it plays out in the world of DWIs? It’s a topic worth understanding in depth if you or a loved one is charged with a DWI. In this blog post, we’ll navigate the ins and outs of DWI bail in the Lone Star State, from understanding the different types of bonds to uncovering the price tags for first, second, and third-time DWI offenders.
The Difference Between “Bail” and “Bond”
While “bail” and “bond” are often used interchangeably, they possess distinct meanings. Bail refers to the money or other security a defendant must provide to secure their temporary release from jail. The bail amount is determined by a judge based on their discretion and the legal framework of their jurisdiction.
In contrast, a bond is a secured agreement made by a third party to pay the court the full bail amount if the defendant fails to appear for their court hearing. When a bond is presented to the court, the defendant is released pending their mandatory court appearance. Various forms of bonds exist, each with its unique characteristics, benefits, and potential challenges.
Five Types of Bonds in Texas
In Texas, there are five primary types of bonds available to individuals seeking release from jail following a DWI arrest:
Surety Bond: Involves a third party (bondsman or bond company) assuming responsibility for the defendant’s bail payment. The bond agent receives a deposit from the defendant or their family in exchange for covering the entire bail amount if the defendant does not appear in court.
Personal Recognizance Bond (PR): Considered the most favorable bond type, it allows the court to release the defendant on their own recognizance without requiring payment or surety. However, defendants must still appear in court for their hearing.
Property Bond: Involves the defendant posting the value of tangible property (e.g., real estate or an automobile) to secure their release. Property bonds can be beneficial for those with higher bail amounts and insufficient cash to cover them, although the property’s value often needs to exceed 150% of the bail amount.
Attorney Bond: Common in Texas, this bond type allows defendants to pay their attorney a non-refundable deposit, often 10% of the bail cost. The attorney guarantees to cover the full bail amount if the client fails to appear in court.
Cash Bond: Involves the defendant, a family member, or a friend paying the entire bail amount directly to the court for the defendant’s release.
The Cost of a Bail Bond in Texas
The cost of a bail bond in Texas generally amounts to 10% to 15% of the total bail amount. For instance, a $20,000 bond would typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000. The specific bail amounts for DWI cases in Texas can vary widely, ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $10,000, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s prior DUI/DWI record.
The state of Texas made significant changes to the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) on September 1st, 2019, eliminating yearly surcharges for DWI convictions. Instead, a one-time civil fee system was introduced:
- First DWI offense: $3,000
- Subsequent offense within 36 months: $4,500
- DWI with a 0.15 or higher BAC: $6,000
If the defendant fulfills all required court appearances or if the judge dismisses the charges, they can seek a refund of cash bond payments or released property. However, deposits paid to bond agents are typically non-refundable, as they constitute payment for provided services.
The average costs for each bond type in Texas are as follows:
- Cash Bond: Full bail amount in cash
- Surety Bond: 10% to 15% of total bail (potentially as low as 1%)
- Property Bond: Value of property at least 150% of bail amount
- Personal Recognizance Bond: No cost
- Attorney Bond: Usually 10% of total bail
Bail Costs for First, Second, and Third DWI Offenses in Texas
The bail amounts for DWI cases increase for repeat offenders. As penalties escalate with each subsequent DWI conviction, the associated costs can become challenging for many individuals to manage.
For a first-time DWI conviction in Texas (a class B misdemeanor), bail often falls within the range of $1,000 to $3,000. However, it can be higher depending on various factors.
A second DWI conviction typically results in bail costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,000, as the charge is elevated to a class A misdemeanor. The court may also require the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in the defendant’s vehicle.
A third DWI conviction, classified as a third-degree felony, can result in bail amounts ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. DWIs with specific aggravating factors, such as open alcohol in the vehicle or accidents causing severe injury, can lead to significantly higher bail amounts.
Correspondingly, the bond deposits will also be higher, reflecting the increased total bail amount for second and subsequent offenses.
Beating Your DWI Charges
A DWI conviction can have profound and far-reaching consequences on various aspects of life, including employment, travel, income, access to resources, and relationships. It is crucial for individuals facing DWI charges to take proactive steps to defend their rights and future. Seeking legal representation from an experienced DWI attorney is essential, as they will work diligently to protect their clients and explore appropriate bail solutions.
Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.