How much does a DUI lawyer cost? A DUI charge or conviction can cost you from monetary and personal perspectives. In terms of legal penalties, an individual who sustains a DUI conviction in court can face huge monetary fines and even jail time. However, hiring a DUI lawyer significantly lessens the chances that you will receive a conviction and penalties.
Although lawyers charge a fee to represent individuals in DUI cases, the potential risks and penalties associated with a conviction are much higher than any fee you have to pay a lawyer. The fee that a lawyer charges for representation in a DUI case will depend mainly on that lawyer's experience and the complexities of defending you. Generally speaking, the more experience an attorney has in handling DUI matters, their reputation in the community, and their track record of success will determine the fee they ultimately charge you for representation in your criminal case.
If you have a pending DUI charge in the court system, you should seek out skilled and experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Your lawyer can discuss your DUI arrest with you and put some options on the table to proceed with your case. Your lawyer can also represent you at any court hearings and negotiate with the state prosecutor handling your case.
A DUI defense lawyer will do everything to help you avoid a conviction altogether. Alternatively, your lawyer might work out a favorable plea deal in exchange for probation or some other incentive.
- Why Do States Take DUIs so Seriously?
- What is a DUI or OWI Charge?
- State Prosecutor's Legal Burden of Proof
- Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction
- Benefit #1 of Having an Attorney-They Can Represent You During Police Questioning and Safeguard Your Legal Rights
- Benefit #2 of Having an Attorney-They Can Formulate and Advocate a Powerful Legal Defense on Your Behalf
- Benefit #3 of Having an Attorney-They Could Argue for a Fair Penalty for You if You Receive a Conviction
- In Summary-Why it's Worth Hiring Skilled Legal Representation in Your Criminal DUI Case and Not Go It Alone
Why Do States Take DUIs so Seriously?
A person who chooses to operate their motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is significantly more likely to cause a collision with another vehicle or with a nearby pedestrian. This result is primarily because of the effects that alcohol has on a driver’s central nervous system. Alcohol is a depressant, and it significantly slows down the brain’s ability to function and process information. Therefore, a driver under the influence of alcohol might experience delayed reaction time.
Consequently, they often cannot stop their vehicle in time to avoid an impact. In addition, a driver who is under the influence might experience various physical symptoms, including blurred vision that prevents them from seeing another vehicle or pedestrian until it is too late.
In addition to incurring criminal penalties for a DUI conviction, if the drunk driver causes an accident in which one or more individuals suffer injuries, the driver can also incur civil liability for the damages that they cause. In that instance, the drunk driver’s insurance company will likely step in to play and provide the necessary coverage for the accident victim’s injuries. Because drunk drivers are far more likely than other drivers to cause serious accidents, states take DUI offenses seriously and often impose harsh criminal penalties—especially for repeat offenders.
What is a DUI or OWI Charge?
DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol, while OWI means operating under the influence. Some jurisdictions use these acronyms interchangeably, while they refer to two separate criminal offenses that carry different penalties upon conviction in other states.
A person can sustain a DUI conviction in most jurisdictions if a police officer determines that they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. If their BAC meets that threshold, the law considers them per se intoxicated.
Stricter standards typically apply to minors under 21 years of age and commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as the operators of large trucks, big rigs, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers. Commercial truck drivers, for example, can sustain a DUI conviction if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. There is usually a zero-tolerance policy for minors who operate their vehicles while under the influence.
A person who sustains a charge and conviction for DUI or OWI can incur severe criminal penalties, depending upon the circumstances and the jurisdiction where their arrest takes place.
A knowledgeable DUI criminal defense lawyer in your jurisdiction can review the circumstances of your arrest with you and help you develop a plan of action for moving forward. Your lawyer will explain your options to you in clear and easy-to-understand terms to help you attain the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
State Prosecutor's Legal Burden of Proof
In a criminal DUI case, the state prosecutor has the legal burden of proof. This requirement means they must satisfy all of the elements of the DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt or beyond a doubt based on common sense and ordinary reason.
If the state prosecutor fails to meet that burden, the court can dismiss the DUI case in its entirety. Moreover, in a criminal DUI case, the defendant (i.e., the arrested individual) does not need to prove anything or even testify at the jury trial. Instead, the state prosecutor has the sole evidentiary burden in the criminal case and must convince the judge or jury to find the defendant guilty of the offense.
Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction
The potential penalties upon conviction for a DUI offense vary depending on the jurisdiction where the arrest occurs. Some jurisdictions impose heavier fines and penalties than other jurisdictions. Moreover, a repeat offender will receive harsher penalties than a first-time offender in most instances. A driver who sustains a conviction for DUI can receive jail time, high monetary fines, required community service, and similar penalties, depending on what the sentencing judge decides.
In addition, the court might require that a defendant driver install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. After installing the device, the driver will need to blow into it to start the vehicle.
If the device detects any amount of alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start. In addition, the driver will be responsible for paying to install the device and must take it in for maintenance regularly. Finally, the court might revoke the driver’s license and driving privileges for some time as part of the driver’s probation.
In addition to these potential penalties, individuals who sustain a DUI conviction might have to deal with serious collateral consequences, including harm to their personal and professional reputation in the community.
In addition, the individual might have difficulty finding or keeping a job after a DUI conviction, especially if their employer finds out about it. Then, a person who sustains a DUI conviction might find it hard to get into the college or university of their choice since admissions recruiters regularly perform criminal background checks on prospective students.
Having a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer on board in your criminal case can significantly lessen the penalties that a judge imposes if you ultimately sustain a conviction for the offense. More importantly, however, a DUI attorney in your area might raise a robust legal defense on your behalf at trial, which might allow you to escape a conviction, fines, jail time, and other penalties altogether.
Benefit #1 of Having an Attorney-They Can Represent You During Police Questioning and Safeguard Your Legal Rights
Even despite the costs associated with retaining an experienced DUI defense attorney, having one is essential to getting the best possible result in your case. The first benefit of having an experienced DUI defense attorney in your corner is that the lawyer can represent you during any police questioning after your arrest. After a police officer makes a DUI arrest, the officer will ask the arrestee questions, such as whether or not they were drinking and how much they had to drink.
If a police officer asks you one or more of these questions, it is crucial that you not answer them. Insist that your lawyer is present with you during any interrogation. If you answer questions without having an attorney present, the police officer or state's attorney can twist what you say and use it to their advantage at trial to obtain a conviction. Contrary to what a police officer may tell you, you do not need to answer questions—other than general intake information (your name or address)—without having your lawyer present.
Benefit #2 of Having an Attorney-They Can Formulate and Advocate a Powerful Legal Defense on Your Behalf
Another potential benefit of having a criminal defense lawyer on board in your DUI case is that the attorney can advance a robust legal defense on your behalf at trial. Although the defendant does not have the legal burden of proof in a criminal case, their lawyer may advance one or more defenses on their behalf. If the judge or jury believes that defense, they may dismiss the entire criminal case.
For example, in a DUI case, the defense attorney might be in a position to argue that the testing equipment, such as the breathalyzer machine, was not working correctly at the time of the arrest. In addition, the defense attorney can argue that the officer did not administer a field sobriety test correctly or that the breathalyzer reading was false due to a health condition such as acid reflux. Finally, a defense lawyer can argue that the driver was not intoxicated when they were behind the wheel despite a breathalyzer reading from an hour or two after the arrest.
A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your jurisdiction will review the fact and circumstances of your arrest (and what happened immediately afterward) with you. Your lawyer can then advise you on which defenses you might be eligible to raise in response to your criminal charge at trial.
Benefit #3 of Having an Attorney-They Could Argue for a Fair Penalty for You if You Receive a Conviction
If the State obtains a DUI conviction against you, it will be left up to a judge to determine the penalty or penalties to impose in your case. A DUI defense lawyer in your jurisdiction can represent you at your sentencing hearing and argue for a fair penalty on your behalf.
Many criminal defense lawyers who practice DUI defense work have good relationships with criminal court judges and state prosecutors. Therefore, your lawyer may arrange a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor in your case and lessen or eliminate some of the accompanying collateral consequences of your DUI conviction.
In Summary-Why it's Worth Hiring Skilled Legal Representation in Your Criminal DUI Case and Not Go It Alone
Going solo in a criminal DUI case is never a good idea—no matter where your case is pending. In fact, if you show up to a court appearance without having a lawyer present, a judge does not necessarily have to postpone your criminal case.
Instead, the judge can make you go forward with your hearing or trial without legal representation. Therefore, as soon as possible after your arrest, you should retain the services of a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your area.
Moreover, despite the costs of a good defense lawyer, you want an attorney representing you who regularly handles DUI cases. You also want to find a lawyer who has a good track record of defending DUI defendants at trial and negotiating favorable plea deals with state prosecutors on behalf of their clients. A skilled DUI defense attorney can make all the difference in the world when it comes to beating a criminal DUI charge or lessening the potential legal penalties and other consequences.
If you're still wondering when to contact a DUI defense lawyer - the answer is now. DUI cases move quickly at first, and you might need to file an administrative hearing request within days of your arrest to keep your license. Do not handle this alone. Provide a defense lawyer with time to prepare your defense.
After a DUI arrest and charges, protect your future by consulting a DUI defense attorney immediately. It is worth paying a lawyer's fees.