If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you can avoid paying expensive fines and skip jail time by getting a DUI lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but a DUI lawyer. Why?
For starters, a DUI lawyer is an expert in DUI cases and charges differently from other types of lawyer. Some attorneys get paid through contingency fees; DUI lawyers will require a payment whether the case is successful or not.
To help you choose a DUI lawyer without breaking the bank, this article will guide you through DUI attorney fees and help you get the most out of your money.
Average Cost of DUI Lawyer
There are several factors that influence a DUI lawyer’s fees, but the complexity of the case and how you want it to be resolved affects it the most.
DUI Attorney Fees
To resolve a DUI case in the fastest and least inconvenient way possible, you will need a lawyer. DUI attorney fees can be determined by two primary factors: the type of attorney and the resolution you’re after.
When getting a DUI attorney, you may either choose a public defender or a private attorney. You may also represent yourself in court, but unless you’re a lawyer yourself, that option isn’t really recommended.
For comparison, here are the average cost of DUI lawyer, price of self-representation, and other DUI-related expenses:
- average total cost – $5,600
- attorney’s fees – $800
- fines and other expenses – $4,800
- average insurance increase – $2,500 for 3 years
- average resolution time – 7 months
- average total cost – $6,600
- attorney’s fees – $2,400
- fines and other expenses – $4,200
- average insurance increase – $1,900 for 3 years
- average resolution time – 7 months
- average total cost – $5,800
- average insurance increase – $3,000 for 3 years
- average resolution time – 6 months
Choosing to represent yourself can save you about $800 in attorney’s fees. However, DUI defendants with no lawyers have a high conviction rate usually due to ignorance of the law. If you get convicted, you will have to pay the full amount of fines. Plus, the average increase in your insurance premium will also be higher because it means that you’re high risk.
If you hire a lawyer, he or she will guide you on how to properly handle your case. If you have a strong defense, you may even get an acquittal. Your lawyer may also advise about plea bargaining and help you negotiate a deal.
Remember that a DUI plea bargain doesn’t mean that the charges against you will be dropped. It will just be exchanged for a less severe punishment.
In terms of case resolution, the average cost of DUI lawyer to negotiate for a plea bargain is between $750 and $1,500. On the other hand, if you want to contest the case and go to trial, expect to pay about $2,500 to $25,000 for trial fees.
For first time DUI offenses, penalties and other fees can cost $3,600. For second offenses, this goes up to $4,000. For third and fourth offenses, fines and other expenses can cost as much as $18,000. Take note that these are just for fines and other state-sanctioned fees.
Cost Factors for DUI Lawyer
Choosing a DUI lawyer doesn’t just end at deciding between a private or a public attorney. There are also cost factors that need to be considered, especially if you’re working on a budget. Knowing these factors can also help you get the most out of your lawyer.
DUI lawyers may either charge an hourly fee or a flat rate. If you hire a lawyer on a per-hour basis, you will also have to pay a retainer fee as down payment.
Attorneys who charge hourly usually divide their fee into portions. Some will split their hour into 15-minute or 6-minute brackets. Just remember that small per-minute increments will cost less in the long run. Hourly fees can be an advantage if your case gets resolved quickly, but if it doesn’t, it will only cost you more.
On the other hand, flat rates cover all fees during the entire resolution of the case. Most lawyers actually prefer this kind of payment because they can get the full amount upfront.
However, most lawyers don’t allow a refund in case you change attorneys during your case’s prosecution. Overpaying is also a possibility with flat rates particularly if the case is settled quickly. But considering that most DUI cases are decided in 6 to 7 months, a flat rate can save you more in the long run.
Whether your lawyer charges hourly or a fixed rate, remember that lawyers from large firms usually charge higher fees than those from smaller law firms.
Lawyer’s experience level
A lawyer’s experience level also determines how much he or she charges. Veteran DUI lawyers will cost more than rookie attorneys. Lawyers with high success rates, whether for acquittal or getting a lenient sentence, also tend to charge higher fees.
On the downside, popular lawyers tend to have several clients at the same time. If your attorney is swamped with cases, he or she might not be able to give your case their full attention. The bottom line is: a good DUI lawyer will cost more but your case will have a better chance of getting a favorable decision.
The thing about DUI cases is that they are expensive. Whether you’re acquitted or convicted, you will have to pay. And since you’re already spending money, it’s better to hire the best DUI lawyer that you can afford.
Even if you don’t win the case, the ideal DUI lawyer can negotiate a good plea deal with the prosecutor. He or she can help you get lower fines and a more lenient punishment.
If you’re worrying about the cost, there’s always public defendant to help you for free. The important thing is to get a DUI lawyer. They will know what to do.