A DUI charge is a grave criminal offense and can label you as a high-risk driver for the rest of your life. If you are facing a DUI case, you will need to hire an experienced DUI lawyer, especially if you want to get your DUI case dismissed. While all attorneys are typically expensive, the average cost of DUI attorneys tends to be a bit more costly.
You may find yourself wondering just how much does a DUI lawyer cost? On top of court costs, DMV fees, penalty fees, DUI school, attorney’s fees, and a long list of other expenses, a DUI charge can be very pricey. You should find a DUI lawyer worth every penny you spend.
When facing DUI charges, hiring an experienced DUI attorney is imperative.
While the average cost of a DUI attorney varies greatly depending on your location, hiring a good DUI lawyer could easily be more expensive. This can also depend on the severity of your DUI charges.
Many DUI lawyers will offer a free case evaluation. This will allow you to discuss your DUI case and your criminal record, while the DUI lawyer can give you a deeper insight into their attorney fees, whether it is a flat fee structure, an hourly rate, and other costs. It is also essential to learn if your lawyer has experience in criminal defense or personal injury cases.
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They can also discuss their outlook on the DUI case. Meaning that they can provide their opinion on whether or not they can get the case dismissed, or if you will face any jail time, community service, or possibly have to attend traffic school.
The right lawyer will do their best to keep you out of jail, make sure that you avoid a DUI conviction or felony charges, you get to keep your driver’s license and avoid a costly trial. The ultimate goal of your lawyer is to have your case dismissed.
But What Does a DUI Attorney Cost?
If you look at the national average cost of DUI attorneys, you can expect to spend between $5,000 and $15,000 for a relatively easy and straightforward DUI case dismissed or settled out of court, especially if this is your first offense.
However, for a more complex DUI case, the average cost for a DUI attorney could skyrocket to fee structures of nearly $20,000. These higher-priced DUI cases usually consist of multiple court appearances, longer jail time, and higher court fees.
Accepting A Plea Deal
Most DUI lawyers’ fees are based on whether or not you accept a plea or take your case to trial. When accepting a plea, you can expect to pay a flat fee of as little as $700. When taking your case to trial, you can expect costs to rise to nearly $5,000, making the average price of a DUI attorney around $1,900.
Fees Vary By State
When hiring legal representation for your DUI case, remember that the DUI lawyer cost varies depending on your state.
Start by searching the internet using your valid zip code. Then find a DUI attorney that will offer a free consultation. This will allow you to speak to a few different DUI attorneys to discuss your case, the probability of a DUI conviction, how much each DUI lawyer can cost, and other mitigating factors.
What Should You Discuss During Your Free Consultation?
Once you have found a DUI lawyer who fits your case best, it is time to discuss the cost of a DUI. When hiring a DUI lawyer, the most critical question is, how much does a DUI case cost? Will your DUI lawyer cost a flat rate or an hourly rate? Will their total cost be less if this is your first offense? Will there be additional costs that haven’t been disclosed?
If the cost of a DUI is too staggering and you cannot afford to hire a DUI lawyer, you could potentially qualify for assignment to a public defender. Public defenders are lawyers employed at public expense for criminal charges to represent a defendant who cannot afford legal assistance.
Being poor should not exclude an individual from receiving adequate public defense when facing criminal charges. That’s why public defenders are a valuable asset that can help you with your felony DUI case without the high price tag of most DUI lawyers. To qualify for a public defender, you must meet specific income requirements that are outlined by your state.
In addition to hiring a high-dollar DUI lawyer, keep in mind that there are plenty of additional fees in relation to a DUI. Most attorneys will explain these during your free consultation.
Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Alaska, and California are the most expensive states to catch a DUI charge. The states that have the cheapest fines for DUI penalties are South Dakota, Mississippi, Ohio, Vermont, & Missouri.
You can also expect to be charged additional penalties, such as impound fees. Your car may have been impounded by a police officer at the time of your arrest. If so, this means that your vehicle was towed away to an impound lot. In order to retrieve your vehicle, you will have to pay a fee to the lot. These fees vary by jurisdiction and may change depending on the circumstances surrounding the car’s removal.
This fee can pertain to both your insurance company and your driver’s license. If you are charged with a DUI, you may be penalized by getting your driver’s license revoked or your insurance policy canceled. In order to reinstate either of these, you will have to pay a reinstatement fee. These fees vary from state to state and depend on why your license or insurance was canceled.
Drivers License Reinstatement
If you have been charged with a DUI, your driver’s license may be revoked. In order to get your driving privileges back, you will have to complete a series of steps to satisfy your state’s legal requirements.
Some of these steps include paying fines, taking defensive driving courses, and submitting paperwork to the proper authorities. In most states, DUI convictions result in both administrative and criminal suspension. You will need to wait until both of these suspensions are over until you can regain your driving privileges.
Some of the steps required by your state to regain driving privileges after your DUI include, but are not limited to:
- Submitting a certificate of completion from a drug and alcohol education program during your suspension period
- Paying the fees determined by your state’s government as well as any other administrative fees that may have been charged
- Get an SR-22 from your auto insurance company
Some states will allow you to complete many of these steps online, such as submitting documents via email and paying fees through a secured payment portal. It could take up to 21 days to process your payments and paperwork, clearing your name and allowing you the use of motor vehicles again.
When it comes to the cost of reinstatement fees, each state has its own regulations and fee structure that determine what the cost will be to get your license back. In most states, the reinstatement fees are cumulative, which means that if you have a revocation for multiple offenses, the total amount of your fines will be all of the offense fees added together.
If your license has been suspended multiple times, this could also affect the amount of your reinstatement fee.
Insurance Policy Reinstatement
In most states, after receiving a DUI, you are required to file a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate, more commonly known as an SR-22. You will be required to hold this certificate for a minimum of two years in most states.
This form is also going to be required to regain access to your driving privileges after an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) or a criminal suspension.
The cost of an SR-22 is usually significantly more expensive than regular car insurance, especially in states like Texas, which has a long history of being the strictest of states when it comes to DUI convictions. The average cost of minimal coverage SR-22 insurance after a DUI is an estimated $988 per year, compared to the annual cost of $643 without an SR-22.
Additional Miscellaneous Costs
After your conviction, you may be court-ordered to complete a defensive driving class. In order to be eligible to regain your driving privileges, you must complete the entire course.
Sometimes, although not required, judges will still sentence you to complete defensive driving in an effort to reduce your DUI to a lesser charge and even reduce your fines, especially if this is a first-time offense. Most states offer you the option to take your entire course online. If online classes are not available in your state, you will be required to take the course in person.
The specified cost of a defensive driver’s course can vary depending on your location. However, the national average ranges from approximately $15 to $100.
Ignition Interlock Device
Judges can also court order you to install an instrument on your vehicle called an Ignition Interlock Device. This is a breathalyzer that must be installed in your car by local professionals in an effort to detect alcohol in your system.
The ignition interlock device requires you to blow into the mouthpiece before turning on your vehicle or to continue operating it. The cost to install this device as well as maintain it is your responsibility for the duration of time it is installed. A state-certified installer is required to install the breathalyzer, and you are responsible for paying the installation fee directly to them.
The monthly leasing fee will be paid to the Interlock System Manager. This fee covers the cost of monthly maintenance, state-required reporting, camera and GPS management, or any additional—technology .required by your state.
Installation and leasing fees vary by state, but the average cost to install an ignition interlock device is between $70 and $150. The monthly leasing fee ranges from $60 to $90. While this device is typically the most inexpensive cost associated with a DUI, assistance is available in most states to those who cannot afford it.
Is The Charge Worth The Cost?
So many high-dollar expenses come along with DUI charges, and hiring a DUI lawyer is undoubtedly the most expensive. In addition to attorney’s fees, court costs, and a long list of other related costs, before you take a drink, you might want to ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
Making sure you have a designated driver is always the safest (and cheapest) option, of course. But if you do happen to find yourself behind the wheel after a few drinks, ask yourself if you can afford a DUI conviction before you turn the keys.
If you don’t, having a good DUI lawyer on your side is imperative. Call the experienced team at Louis J. Goodman for a free consultation and get an excellent defense for your case that you can afford.