A DUI lawyer specializes in defending clients who have been charged with the crimes of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. Records show that these are the most common crimes for which people are arrested. Each state has their own laws and legal consequences, so it is important to find lawyer who is familiar with your particular jurisdiction. Consequences can be substantial, including the loss of driving privileges and jail time. Hiring the right lawyer can greatly improve your chances for a positive outcome.
DUI laws differ from one state top the other. Filing deadlines tend to be very strict, so it is important to hire an attorney that specializes in cases in your state. The best DUI attorneys limit their practice to these cases, thereby acquiring a level of expertise and experience that general criminal defense attorneys do not have.
Attorneys that specialize in DUI/DWI defense charge either flat fees or hourly rates. The hourly rate can be as high as $300 an hour or more. Lawyers who work on an hourly basis require an upfront retainer and deduct their hourly fees from that amount. If the retainer is depleted, you will receive a bill for the rest. Initial consultations are typically free, though some charge an hourly rate for this as well.
If you intend to plead guilty and not contest the charge, the flat fee will run from $500 to $1200. More highly regarded attorneys might charge even more. These attorneys charge higher fees so that they can make money representing fewer clients and therefore spend more time on each case.
If you are a repeat offender, expect your legal fees to increase substantially. Depending on how complex the case is and the number for prior offenses, DUI lawyer cost can reach $5000 or even more. Repeat offenses also carry steeper financial penalties. If the case goes to trial, the cost of your defense can be as much as $25000, or even higher. Cases that go to trial become more expensive largely due to the testimony of expert witnesses. These witnesses can cost as much as $7000. If you lose in criminal court and choose to appeal, expect the price of your defense to be even greater. Most cases never make it to trial, but some lawyers specialize in fighting DUI cases in court.
If you cannot afford a DUI lawyer, you have a right to have one appointed to you by the court. You can ask for court appointed representation at the arraignment hearing. The court will ask for financial details to determine if you indeed cannot afford a lawyer. If you make too much money, then they can still appoint a lawyer and you will be responsible for reimbursing the state for your defense.
DUI charges are serious. Hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference. Some lawyers are making a very good living by successfully fighting these charges in court. If you have the money to spend on your legal defense, then you have a decent chance of beating the charges if the case goes to trial. However, these lawyers generally do not take cases to trial that they do not think they can win. If your lawyer thinks your case is weak, it is probably a good idea to follow their advice and accept a fee.
If you need a DUI lawyer, there is a chance that it is a sign that you have some other problems as well. Rather than finding an opportunity to see what you can get away with, you should treat this as a serious wake up call. Thousands of lives are lost every year due to drunk drivers. It is probably time to get some help for what is probably a serious problem with addiction.