There are many different expenses that come into play when you get a DUI. Fines, legal fees, drug and alcohol classes, increased insurance rates, etc. Most people are aware that getting a DUI is expensive, but how much does a DUI lawyer cost? When is it worth paying for a DUI lawyer? Will it save you money in the long run? This article breaks down the costs of getting a DUI, including a DUI lawyer cost estimate and an evaluation of when it is worth hiring a lawyer.
DUI Lawyer Cost
Lawyer prices depend on many factors, including the type of legal work, the billing method, the experience of your attorney, and your location. Here is an article you can read for a thorough breakdown of attorney prices and rates. An average DUI lawyer cost estimate will involve these same considerations.
Many DUI lawyers will take a DUI case on a flat fee basis, meaning they will give you a flat rate for representation throughout the entire case. You will usually pay part of the cost, or even the entire cost upfront. This is known as a retainer payment.
Some lawyers prefer to bill you hourly for each hour of work. This can get expensive in a hurry, with most lawyers charging $100-300 per hour, or even more if you go with a bigger law firm or you are located in a big city.
While more experienced lawyers are usually more expensive, you definitely do not want to compromise on quality when you hire a DUI lawyer. If you work with a lawyer that is inexperienced with DUI cases, you will end up paying a lot of money but you will be less likely to get a favorable result.
Experience with DUI cases is a key thing to look for, so don’t just go with the first lawyer you come across. Ask each lawyer about their experience, how long they have been practicing, and how many DUI cases they have worked on before you hire one.
All things considered, an average DUI lawyer cost is probably going to set you back about $2500-5,000 for a first time DUI offense.
Other DUI Fines and Expenses
There are many expenses beyond just those paid to a DUI lawyer. Here are some of the most common ones, along with an estimate of how much you can expect to pay.
If you were arrested when you got your DUI, you will likely have to post bail to get out. This can cost anywhere from $100-2000 depending on your situation.
State Fines and Penalties
DUI fines assessed by the state are an expense that you will face no matter what. The amount of your DUI fines will depend on what state you are in, whether it is your first DUI offense or not, and the specific details of your case.
Clearly, the state wants to discourage you from becoming a repeat DUI offender, so the fines increase drastically for a second or third DUI offense. On average, you can probably expect to pay between $500-1500 for a first offense, up to $3000 for a second offense, and up to $15,000 or more for a third offense.
If you don’t have a way of getting your car home, you may have to have it towed and stored until you can pick it up. This can be very expensive in some cities. On average, you will have to pay about $200 for towing and storage, but it could be up to $1000.
Many states now require even first time DUI offenders to have an interlock device installed in their vehicles. These devices work like breathalyzers and they prevent you from starting your car if your blood alcohol level is above the limit.
Depending on the state, these devices often require an installation fee of $100-200, plus often an ongoing monthly rental fee. You can expect one of these devices to cost you about $300 total on average.
Alcohol Education Classes
In addition to fines, many DUI offenders face mandatory drug, alcohol, or DUI prevention classes. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate reduced fines in exchange for agreeing to attend alcohol classes. If you work with a DUI lawyer, you will often have a better chance at negotiating for reduced fines.
The costs for alcohol and DUI prevention classes depend again on the state, the type of class, and the number of classes required. But, on average you can expect to pay an additional $200-2000 for drug and alcohol education.
Driver’s License Reinstatement
Many states will suspend your driver’s license for getting a DUI. This can be a major headache, and you will have to find other sources of transportation, such as carpooling, taking taxis, or riding the bus or other means of public transportation.
You may have to pay for some of these transportation methods, depending where you live and what options you have. You will also have to deal with the DMV and have your license reinstated. This normally comes with fees of $100-300, depending on your state.
Increased Car Insurance Rates
Your car insurance rates will certainly increase for getting a DUI. Unlike the expenses from fines and alcohol classes, car insurance increases will stay around for a long time, often 3-5 years. The amount of your insurance rate increase will depend on your insurance company, and whether or not it’s your first offense while driving.
On average, you can expect to pay around $1500 per year above what you currently pay, for an average of 3 years, totaling between $4000-5000.
Totaling It All Up
DUI costs vary greatly from one state to the next, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The things mentioned above are just some of the most common expenses you will pay when you get a DUI. There are a number of other expenses that can come into play.
If you were involved in an accident when you got a DUI, your case will surely be significantly more complex and expensive, especially if another person was injured or killed. Also, if you have a record of previous DUIs, criminal activity, or other driving-related offenses, you will probably have a more expensive case.
In general, the average first time DUI offense will probably cost a total of between $9,000-12,000 when it’s all said and done.
Is it Worth it to Hire a DUI Lawyer?
Hiring a DUI lawyer will usually be pretty expensive. But there are many benefits that come from it as well. It’s usually a good idea to at least talk to a DUI lawyer and find out what options you might have. Here is a helpful guide about what to do if you get a DUI to get you started.
A DUI lawyer can be a big help while you navigate through your case and get out of trouble. One of the best things about hiring a DUI lawyer is that you will have someone by your side that has gone through many DUI cases before. Your lawyer can give you advice at each step of your case and give you an idea of what to expect up ahead.
You also may have a chance of getting out of a DUI conviction altogether, depending on the events that took place at the time of your arrest. In some cases, the arresting officer makes procedural mistakes or advises you improperly regarding your rights. These things may get you off the hook if you go to trial.
It is unlikely that you will be able to win your case, but you never know. A DUI lawyer will almost always be able to negotiate some type of plea deal, which can help reduce the fines you owe and prevent any jail time.
That’s why it is usually worth talking to a DUI lawyer after you get a DUI in order to evaluate your case. Almost any lawyer will do a first case evaluation for free. This will give you the chance to find out what your options are, and what the likely outcome will be for each course of action.