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How Much Do DUI Lawyers Charge?

For first time offenders, and even those with prior convictions, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the legal process surrounding a driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge. The penalties can be significant and financially devastating.

It is always recommended to hire a DUI lawyer to guide you through the entire process.  But of course, hiring a lawyer would come with extra costs — costs that are worth the investment in order to protect your rights, ensure your case was investigated properly, and that any offer is reasonable and fair.  Our lawyers can reduce your stress and guide you through the system while safeguarding your rights and fighting for the best possible results. 

You may be thinking that you can do it yourself, and sometimes that is true.  But each case is different, and each judge has their own way of doing things.  Here is an example: During the pandemic, many police departments stopped offering breath tests as required by law.  Many judges are significantly reducing charges or dismissing them altogether because of non-compliance with Express Consent laws.  If this issue is not raised, you may be sentenced in a case that should have been dismissed.  You cannot expect a DA or a judge to proactively dismiss your case. Our lawyers will fight for your case to be dismissed if your rights were violated. 

You need an experienced lawyer to analyze your case to determine whether your rights were violated and ensure you are protected. 

If you’re thinking about hiring a DUI lawyer, your first question would definitely be how much it costs. We break down all the expenses of hiring a DUI attorney, as well as other fees involved in your DUI case. 

Costs to Hire a DUI Lawyer

Some factors come into play when determining the cost of a DUI lawyer. Some examples include:

  • The reputation of the law firm or the attorney
  • The lawyer’s experience
  • Whether they are a private lawyer or public defender
  • The state where they practice
  • If you accept a plea or go to trial
  • The complexity of your case 
  • Whether you have prior convictions
  • Your blood alcohol content
  • If there was an accident or property damage

On average, you’ll be spending around $700 to $5,000 if you accept a plea and $5000 – $15,000 if you go to trial. While a public defender provides free representation, many jurisdictions do not offer their services for DUI cases. 

It’s worth noting here that these are not the only expenses you will encounter in your DUI case. If there are questions about your arrest, your sobriety, or testing these issues must be raised through the filing of Motions and having hearings before going to trial.  If you had a high BAC over a .200 you may lose your license and face mandatory jail.  You may also request a DMV hearing.  These are a few examples of what can increase the costs for your case and make it stretch out longer than normal.  Some cases can take 6 months before they even get to trial, especially with the backlog from Covid.

DUI lawyers can choose to adopt a unique structure of payment for their legal services. Depending on the preferences of your chosen attorney, you will either pay an hourly rate or a flat rate. 

The most common payment structure for DUI attorneys is an hourly fee, usually at a rate of $200 to $500 an hour, depending on the lawyer and where they practice. While the hourly rate is a viable payment option, it’s only cost-effective for simple DUI cases because these are often resolved in a short period of time. 

Aggravated cases, such as those with a high BAC, injuries, priors, or those that need expert testimony can go on for months, and sometimes years. If the DUI attorney is paid by the hour, this can be expensive for the client. 

Two Ways DUI Lawyers are Paid 

DUI lawyers can choose to adopt a unique structure of payment for their legal services. Depending on the preferences of your chosen attorney, you will either pay an hourly rate or a flat rate. 

Hourly Rate

The most common payment structure for DUI attorneys is an hourly fee, usually at a rate of $200 to $500 an hour, depending on the lawyer and where they practice. While the hourly rate is a viable payment option, it’s only cost-effective for simple DUI cases because these are often resolved in a short period of time. 

Extreme cases, such as those with a lot of witnesses, expert reviews, or other complexities, can last for as long as 12 months. If the DUI attorney is paid by the hour, this can be expensive for the client. 

Flat Rate

Other lawyers offer a flat rate for their services, which covers the entire time that they work with you. Sometimes, the fee changes if the case gets to certain points in the process.  For example, a typical flat fee may be $3000 and cover all litigation through Motions Hearing.  In this case, there is generally a trial retainer, or an additional amount required if you go to trial.  This is usually at least an additional $3000 — again, depending on the lawyer and the location where they practice. 

Other Costs Involved in Your DUI Case 

Getting entangled in a DUI case is not a cheap endeavor. Aside from your attorney’s fees, you will have other expenses such as fines, court fees, DUI classes, and more. Do keep in mind that the numbers listed are only estimates because the amount can differ based on your state. 

Court Fees 

The court procedures that will be undertaken for your DUI case will require a separate fee, including but are not limited to: 

  • Court Costs – $300 and up
  • Probation – $50 a month 
  • Drug testing as a condition for bail or probation – $25 per test 
  • Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment:  $45 and up for assessment and costs per class of $25 and up
  • Bail – $100 and up depending on the facts of the case
  • Driver responsibility fees – $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the state 
  • Ignition interlock device – $100 for installation and a monthly fee between $60 to $80
  • Towing and impound – $100 to $1,000 depending on the state 

DMV Fees & Insurance

A person charged with a DUI case typically gets their license suspended. If they are deemed eligible to reinstate it, they need to pay for the fees set forth by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The amount depends on the state where your license is valid, costing anywhere from $100 to $200. 

Most people who are charges with a DUI or DWAI must also obtain SR-22 car insurance which is extremely expensive.

DUI Classes 

Depending on the severity of your case and the State where you reside, you may be required by the court to attend DUI classes. These are mandatory as they are part of the sentence. They are also required if you want to keep or reinstate your license.  DUI classes cost about $25 – $50 a class.  Depending on the number of classes you have to take, this gets expensive quickly. 

DUI Fines

A person convicted of a DUI will be ordered to pay a fine, the amount of which depends on several factors. 

  • First-time offenses – $600 to $1,000 depending on the state and the severity of the situation
  • Second or Subsequent offenses – $600 to $1500

Do You Need a DUI Lawyer?

While a DUI lawyer is not required to undergo a DUI case, it’s highly recommended. An attorney who is experienced with cases like yours can help you navigate your case and inform you about the fees involved. A DUI lawyer can also help you achieve a fairer and more favorable sentence.

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Jessica
Lasky

Partner - Criminal Defense

Colorado Springs