The cost of hiring a California DUI lawyer depends on a number of factors including how experienced the attorney is and how much time they spend on your case. Generally, attorneys cannot give a set price up front. They will charge by the hour. However, the work of DUI attorney can pay off substantially—it can make a real difference in your case and in your future. It’s unwise to face a DUI charge without one.
To help you get the most out of your attorney, and find one who is worth the money, we’ll cover their fees in detail below. First, however, there are two important things you should realize before you even start shopping for an attorney:
- The consultation should be FREE. Some lawyers charge for an initial consultation, while others provide it free of charge. In the field of DUI defense, the best lawyers always provide a free consultation. This is to help you make an informed decision before you pay any money. An experienced DUI lawyer knows that they cannot tell you what they can do for you until they know the details of your case, so they let you come in and talk about it for free. At your consultation, they can give you a sense of how complicated your case is, what your chances are, and how much (approximately) you might expect to pay to fight it.
- Low fees are often too good to be true. Many lawyers advertise strikingly low rates to defend DUI cases. These are rarely the lawyers you actually want representing you in court. When the price is low, there’s a reason. They may have hidden fees when they start analyzing evidence, or they may simply be inexperienced and unlikely to make a difference in your case. Lawyers who have a good track record in the courtroom do not have garage sale prices.
What Determines a DUI Lawyer’s Fee?
Almost all DUI lawyers charge an hourly rate. The more time they spend working on your case, the more it will cost. There are three main factors that affect what you’ll end up paying:
- The complexity of your case. Some DUI cases are straightforward. These are usually cases where your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was close to the legal limit, and where you have no past record. Lawyers can expect a high chance of negotiating you a bargain or winning your case. Other cases are much more complicated: there may be other charge besides DUI, someone was injured, or you have past convictions. Attorneys know they will have to fight harder, and longer, to get a favorable outcome in these cases. The more complex cases take more time, so they cost more.
- Included costs. Does your DUI lawyer charge you a lab fee to re-test your blood sample? Do they pass on fees for subpoenaing evidence? Or, alternately, do they offer free perks—like a free ride to court hearings if your license was suspended? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, but you should ask up front what is and is not included in their hourly fee.
- The attorney’s experience level. Good lawyers charge more. The lawyer you want representing you is someone that judges respect, who has a good reputation for winning in the courtroom, and years of experience. They should focus primarily on DUI cases. These types of lawyers will cost more per hour, but the added cost will be worth it. They’re also more likely to give you their full attention, treat you with respect, and care about the outcome of your case.
Common DUI Layer Traps to Avoid
Not all lawyers who say they do DUI defense have your best interests at heart. Some are just looking to make quick money. Luckily, you can identify and avoid these types of “sharks.”
Here are some of the traps to look for when selecting an attorney:
- They don’t just do DUI cases. Lawyers who take any kind of criminal case will not be as experienced at DUI cases. Good DUI lawyers focus on their field, and only take on drunk driving and related cases.
- They hand you off. At the consultation, ask the lawyer if they will be handling your case personally. If they plan to hand you off to a younger attorney, it’s a bad sign. Some firms have multiple experienced DUI attorneys working together—that’s fine. If the experienced attorney is just there to reel you in, however, you should keep looking.
- They offer surprisingly low fees. Some attorneys will offer an unrealistically low fee, only to tell you to plead guilty at the first chance. They are not watching your back.
- They promise they can finish your case for a fixed rate. No attorney can predict how long a case will take. This is another sign they don’t plan to invest time in your case.
- They say they can promise you an outcome. No one can guarantee a win in a criminal case.
Is the Cost of a DUI Lawyer Worth It?
The best DUI lawyers sincerely want to see you win your case and be able to move on with your life. They will work with you. They will offer you the consultation for free, and they may even have a payment plan available. And remember that a victory in a DUI case can save you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes, hiring a DUI lawyer will pay for itself.
The best way to find out what your case will cost is to go to a consultation and ask. We can match you with an experienced, dedicated Los Angeles DUI attorney who offers a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right and get your consultation today.