DUI Lawyer Costs
One of the major worries that springs to mind as soon as you are charged with DUI is, “How much will a DUI lawyer cost?” This is a legitimate concern because the cost may very well be significant. Remember, though, that a skillful defense attorney may keep you out of jail and help you to avoid loss of income, loss of your driver’s license or professional license, and many other serious penalties that may stem from a DUI arrest. Knowing that, it’s worthwhile to consider what will truly cost you more in the end.
DUI Lawyer Costs - Gaining an Understanding
Beware of Dump Trucks
In the legal profession, “dump truck” is a slang term for an attorney who attracts clients with impossibly low fees and then does little or nothing to actually defend them. A dump truck attorney will often forego any investigation into the arrest, such as determining whether the breathalyzer was operating properly or whether a blood sample was legally obtained. Instead he is apt to plead his client guilty at an early court appearance and move on with his life.
Don’t Pay for His Commercials
Another DUI attorney to avoid is what’s known in the legal profession as a “factory” or a “mill.” These are attorneys who invest a large amount of money into impressive commercials on television, radio, and the internet. Such commercials will convince some naïve clients that these attorneys are the best in the area and therefore worth the high fees they charge. Yet you may sign on with firm whose name is familiar from TV, only to find that instead of dealing directly with Mr. Hotshot, your case will be handled by a recent law school graduate who’s handling an enormous caseload with little experience.
What Should You Expect?
Any way you slice it, a DUI is an expensive error, but not only because of your DUI lawyer cost. You may also be looking at any or all of the following:
- Lost wages while in jail, in court, or doing community service.
- Jacked-up insurance rates.
- DUI driving school or substance abuse counseling
- Ignition interlock system
- Court costs
If you choose to take your chances and defend yourself, then of course your DUI lawyer cost will be zero, but you could pay through the nose in other ways. Hiring an attorney to assist you may run an average of around $2,000. If your case goes to trial, you might pay more than $5,000. We suggest you schedule a consultation with our featured attorney in Rochester, NY, for a better idea what it may cost to defend your particular case.
DUI Lawyer Costs - Video Brief
It's also helpful to see how other attorney's position the value of their services with this short video.
To Fight or Not to Fight?
It’s a huge decision, especially if you’re like many folks and don’t have a healthy savings account just waiting to be used in a crisis like this. Perhaps if this is your first offense and you were arrested at a traffic stop, whether to fight the charges could be a bit of a gray area. On the other hand if you are a repeat offender (in many states a third DUI charge is an automatic felony) or if you harmed a person or damaged any property, you may find it wiser to leave no stone unturned in your quest to defend yourself. In such a circumstance where jail time is a possibility, whatever your DUI lawyer costs will be a bargain compared to the alternative. Be aware, though, if you do go to trial, that if any expert witnesses are called by your attorney to challenge evidence against you, their fees could add thousands of dollars to your final bill.
Getting What You Pay For
If your legal fees are set fairly—not as low as a “dump truck’s” or as high as a television ambulance chaser’s—then the amount you pay should be a reflection of the attorney’s experience and success rate. While some law firms will charge a set fee to handle your entire case, others may bill you by the hour. This would mean that you could expect to be charged for each contact you have with the lawyer, and not only in person. Emails and phone calls will cost you as well. Theoretically, your bottom line should be approximately the same no matter which method your attorney uses, but you would still want to know up front how your DUI lawyer cost will be broken down.
You would be smart to request a written estimate of expenses before you hire a particular lawyer to handle your case. Such an estimate should outline all of the services and proceedings that are included in the fee. However, there is always a possibility that unexpected needs (such as the need for an expert witness) may arise and cause your DUI lawyer cost to increase.
What If I Just Can’t Afford It?
Unfortunately, a cheap DUI lawyer maybe worse than nothing, because if you hire one, you’ll not only be guilty, you’ll be broke. In case it seems that a dump truck lawyer is all you can afford, it may be best to keep your money and go with the public defender. However, if this scenario frightens you and you have the time and patience to be very diligent, it’s possible that you might locate a young attorney, just beginning practice, who is willing to help you. Granted, you will not benefit from the experience you’d get with a more established lawyer, but call around town and see what you can do. You might luck out and find a young attorney willing to do an excellent job in order to begin building his reputation.
Vet Your Candidate
Nobody has enough money to throw it away on inferior legal representation. Once you have selected an attorney who seems to fit the bill for you, double-check to make sure that he graduated from and accredited college and law school, and make sure that he specializes in DUI defense, rather than just defending cases across the full spectrum of criminality. Meanwhile, make sure that your candidate does not: advertise on the radio, on TV, or via junk mail (excellent attorneys don’t need to). Make sure he doesn’t claim a high win rate that he cannot prove, make promises to you about the outcome of your case, or claim to have authored books about DUI defense which, in reality, are merely advertising tools. Your DUI lawyer cost may be the most significant sum you pay to another person in your lifetime, so choose well to preserve your priceless future.
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Our featured attorney may be a certified specialist in their DUI field. If so, the organization providing the certification is not affiliated with any governmental authority. Certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law.