How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?
Reviewed by Carina Jenkins J.D.
A specialist lawyer can help you navigate the court process and achieve a favorable outcome if you've been charged with a DUI or DWI offense.
However, this legal help comes at a cost. It's important to understand how much you'll need to pay for legal representation to help you manage your finances.
It's essential to determine how your lawyer charges for their time before hiring them. Certain fee structures may be more favorable than others, depending on the complexity of your case and the seriousness of your alleged crime.
Some DUI lawyers charge by the hour for time spent working on your case and representing you in court. Hiring an attorney who charges an hourly rate can be advantageous if your case is straightforward and concludes quickly, as you'll only pay for the time you need. However, you could end up paying hefty legal fees if proceedings take an unexpected turn or last longer than anticipated.
Alternatively, a DUI attorney may charge a flat fee for representing you. This payment structure could be a good option if your case becomes complex, as your attorney can't change the pre-agreed fees. On the other hand, you may end up paying more than you need to if the case concludes swiftly.
Charging flat fees is risky for attorneys because they could end up being paid significantly less than their usual rate for hours worked. For that reason, flat fees are more likely to apply to straightforward cases or those where the lawyer expects to negotiate a decent plea deal.
Some lawyers charge a flat fee for the pretrial phase of the case and then charge an additional flat fee or an hourly rate if the case goes to trial. This is because trials can use significant additional time and resources.
Regardless of how your lawyer charges, they'll usually ask you to pay a retainer upfront before starting work on your case. If you pay by the hour, your retainer will cover a specific number of hours. You'll pay the hourly fee once the time spent on the case exceeds the amount paid for by the retainer.
Hiring a DUI lawyer often costs between $200 and $500 per hour, according to Legal Match. You should expect to pay your lawyer around $1,900 in total if you pay hourly, although fines and other costs could increase your total spend to between $5,000 and $8,000. A DUI lawyer could cost significantly more for serious cases requiring lengthy court proceedings.
Alternatively, paying a DUI attorney under a flat fee arrangement usually costs between $2,500 and $4,000. Remember that under any fee structure, you may pay more if the case goes to trial. If you think your case might go to trial, be sure to discuss it with your lawyer upfront.
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Various factors can affect how much hiring a DUI lawyer costs, including the average cost of living where you live. Your lawyer's experience, reputation and the size of their caseload can also affect their hourly rate.
If you pay a flat fee, your attorney will determine what to charge by looking at the details of your case. They'll use their experience to estimate how much time they'll need to spend on your case and how likely it is to conclude quickly. If your case is complex or your attorney believes achieving a plea deal or agreement is unlikely, you'll pay higher fees.
Whether you're charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on the seriousness of the offense and whether you have a history of similar offenses. If this is your first offense and the case is relatively straightforward, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Typically, it's less expensive to hire a lawyer for a misdemeanor case than a felony. If you have a previous DUI conviction or are accused of a serious offense, you may be charged with a felony and face significantly higher legal costs.
While you don't have to hire a DUI lawyer to represent you, it's usually the wisest course of action. An experienced DUI attorney will understand the legal processes and help you prepare the best defense possible. Furthermore, a competent lawyer can help the case run more smoothly, saving time in court and reducing your legal fees.
If you accept the charges against you, a knowledgeable attorney can help you achieve the best possible plea deal. Therefore, they could help you avoid the most severe sentences for your offense category.
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