How can we help?
(248) 602-2799

How Much Will a DUI Lawyer Cost?

Jun 26th, 2018 DUI Defense DUI Trials OWI DUI Enforcement How Much Will a DUI Lawyer Cost?

There is at least a ten-fold difference in the amounts Michigan lawyers charge to handle a first offense drunk driving case. Fees usually start at around $1,500.00 for a newer less experienced lawyer.  From there, fees increase to as much as $15,000 – $25,000.00, including trial, for a top DUI lawyer.  Where death or serious injury is involved, fees can be even higher.

With such a wide range of fees you may wonder if it is worth spending more to hire a great lawyer?  For some people the answer is clearly yes while for others the answer is more elusive.  Either way, it’s a personal decision that depends on many factors. Before making the investment in a top DUI lawyer, you may wish to consider the following questions:

Is the Lawyer Available to Answer my Questions? If you’re spending a lot of money for a lawyer then you should expect plenty of communication.  Facing a criminal charge can make you feel like you are standing on the edge of an abyss staring into the great chasm of the great unknown.  Your attorney will be your guide helping to bring order into the chaos you are facing. Consequently, when needed, you should have an easy ability to contact your lawyer without delay or hassle.  No lawyer is going to be forever available, and consideration should be given for time spent in court and handling other client’s cases.  Nevertheless, you should expect to be in contact within a reasonable amount of time under most circumstances.  A good way to determine if the lawyer you’re considering will be good with communication after you’ve paid them is to start paying attention from the first time you contact the Firm.  You will begin to get a feel of how important communication is to the lawyers and staff involved. Consider such things as whether a person answers the phone, or it goes to voicemail; does your attorney provide a cell phone number to call or text; how much time does it takes for someone to get back to you for an initial consultation; how much time does the attorney give you in the initial consultation, before you’ve even paid them. If communication seems labored or difficult, then this is a warning sign that will lead to an increase in stress as your case moves through the system.

Does the Lawyer have Time for my Case? There are two aspects to this one; does the attorney have time to take your case and how much time will they be spending to defend you?  If lawyers at the low end of the fee scale do all the work necessary to adequately defend a drunk driving case, then they effectively will be working for minimum wage.  To avoid this they will cut-corners by not thoroughly investing in the case.  Or, they won’t file motions where necessary, won’t obtain or review video recordings, or breath or blood test records, won’t keep you advised of the status of your case, isn’t available to answer your questions, will habitually be late to court because they had to go to a different court first, and on and on.  No lawyer goes to law school to make minimum wage, so most lawyers at the low end will cut corners and try to make money on volume.

Does the Lawyer Care about Me or My Case?  Another common complaint about attorneys that they don’t care. While you may find it difficult to measure the attorney’s level of care initially, there are many things to consider during the initial consultation. Does the attorney do all the taking?  Does the attorney “brag” about themselves, trying to convince you how great they are?  Does the attorney bad-mouth other attorneys to try to make themselves look better?  Does the attorney immediately go into “problem solving mode” or do they ask personal and relevant questions about you and allow you to tell your story and how you felt? When you tell your story, do you feel heard?  Is the attorney really listening, or just waiting for you to finish to get back to sales mode?  Does the attorney ask about how your life would be affected if you’re convicted? Does the attorney spot potential collateral issues like professional licensing, travel, family situations, etc.?  Pay attention to your emotional state as you speak with the lawyer before hiring the firm.  When you’re done with the conversation do you feel better or worse?

Do you Understand Potential Collateral Consequences?  You may not fully appreciate the overall toll a drunk driving case can take on your career, your freedom, your family and your reputation. If your lawyer is not talking to you about these things, then there is a chance they don’t know about the impact themselves, or if they do know, don’t want to spend the time discussing then with you and trying to resolve them.  Unless the lawyer takes to time to ask you about things besides the facts of your case, including questions about your education and employment background, travel needs, life circumstances and family background, they can never adequately advise you about potential consequences.  Because this could be the most important investment of your life it pays to hire a lawyer who is willing to spend this time and who is both knowledgeable and compassionate.  You only have one chance to try to get a great result.  Once you’ve plead guilty it will be too late to change.

Does the Lawyer Have a Track Record for Great Results?  No attorney can guarantee an outcome, and if the lawyer you’re taking suggests otherwise, run away as fast as you can.  It’s unethical to promise an outcome, especially before any of the discovery (police reports, dash-cam videos, etc.) is reviewed. On the other hand, hiring an attorney with a proven track record of results will increase your opportunity to obtain a dismissal or the best plea or sentence deal. Some of the best DUI lawyers in the Nation reside right here in Michigan and hiring a lawyer with a top reputation can make all the difference.

Does the Lawyer Provide you with a Clear Fee Agreements Detailing an All-Inclusive Fees?  Beware the bait and switch; some of the low-cost lawyers often charge extra for all the stuff necessary to actually defend a case.  Before hiring a lawyer, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for and what work with be done to investigate and defend your case.  Sometimes even more importantly, be sure you understand what is not covered by the fees quoted.  Also, insist that you be provided with a clear and detailed fee agreement that sets forth everything discussed during the initial consultation.  Some low-cost lawyers start at a low fee, but then require more money to perform additional necessary tasks such as obtaining police reports, filing motions or even appearing in court.  A written fee agreement will preclude this type of behavior.

Does the Lawyer offer Payment Plans?  Hiring an experienced, respected successful attorney is expensive and most people don’t have the kind of money lying around. A payment plan can help you bridge the gap. If you truly want an attorney who has a track record of results, communication, and care, ask if the attorney will arrange a flexible payment plan.  Just like with the fee agreement, the terms of the payment plan should be explicit.

As one of the Nation’s top DUI lawyers likes to say “an arrest is not a conviction!”  Consequently, the lawyer you hire can make a big difference in the outcome you receive.  With so much at stake, your decision will likely boil down to a balancing of your budget and ability to pay against the seriousness of the consequences you face if you are convicted.