Almost 30 people die in the U.S. every day due to car crashes involving driving under influence (DUI). This equivalents to one death in the country every 51 minutes. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving under influence related car crashes cost more than $59 billion each year. The problem is really big.
When you are facing a DUI, the first thing that may come to your mind is – do I need legal representation? You have been arrested and booked for driving under the influence and now you are scared for your future. These charges usually lead to serious consequences and getting the right legal representation is paramount if you want to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
Do you need to hire a DUI attorney or is the public defender good enough to get you out of the trouble? What about going at it alone?
While it is true that hiring a lawyer is not cheap. What are the alternatives? It is not a good idea to represent yourself when facing a criminal charge like DUI. Therefore, many people choose to rule out self-representation. So you are basically left with two options – to appoint a DUI attorney or to seek help from the public defenders office. Before choosing one over the other, let’s dig a little deeper to understand whether hiring a private DUI defense lawyer is worth the cost, especially in terms of the outcome.
Private DUI Defense Lawyers vs. Public Defenders
It is true that there are certain advantages of public defenders. In fact, they are great especially if you don’t have enough money to afford a private lawyer. However, public defenders are typically overworked. They work on a number of cases at a time and may not be able to devote their full time and concentration on your case.
An attorney who concentrates in criminal defense law and DUI law on the other hand, can meet and talk you whenever you want to. Besides, these legal professionals dedicate more time on your case compared to the public defenders. If the cost of hiring a private DUI attorney is bothering you, understand that most legal practitioners offer free consultations to help you access the case and your chances of winning.
The cost should not be the only factor when it comes to selecting the right lawyer to defend you and fight for your rights.
How much should a DUI Defense Attorney Cost?
Let’s take a look at the costs associated with a DUI case.
Of course, a public defender will cost you less than a hired attorney. In general, DUI attorneys either charge a flat rate or on hourly basis. For a flat rate fee, the lawyer will charge a fixed fee covering the entire course of the DUI case and you are more likely to get a discount for flat rates vs. hourly. Hourly service, as the name suggests, means that you will be billed based on the specified hours the lawyer has worked for your case. As a result, you don’t need to overpay the lawyer if the case is resolved quickly.
That said, the rates differ from lawyer to lawyer, depending on various factors such as the complexity of your case, the reputation and experience of the lawyer, the state bar rules, local market rates and so on. Your decision to accept a plea bargain or to move forward with the trial also affect the cost. Typically, the fee of a DUI lawyer can range from $2,500 to $25,000 based on the severity of your offense as well as the complexity of the case. A DUI attorney DuPage County, Illinois, for example, can charge you anything between $1,300 and $25,000.
The Outcome – Is It Worth to Hire a DUI Defense Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, hiring DUI lawyer has certain advantages over seeking help from public defenders. Be it a plea bargain or a trial, a private DUI defense attorney will devote more time and effort to develop the optimum strategy for your case. He/she will commit 100 percent of the available resources to ensure the best possible outcome.
According to a study conducted by Martindale Nolo Research, DUI defendants who are represented by private attorneys are less likely to be convicted (65 percent were convicted) compared to those represented by public defenders. Almost 22 percent of defendants with private lawyers bagged a plea bargain for lesser offenses, charges were dismissed for 12 percent and 1 percent were found not guilty, following the trial.
The study also indicate that out of the total number of DUI defendants represented by public defenders, 74 percent were convicted.
While no two DUI cases are same, you need to focus on finding the right lawyer who has the experience and knowledge to help you get the best result possible based on the circumstances of your case and the law. Also, approach your DUI charges with the utmost seriousness to protect yourself from the possible dire consequences. So if you can afford it, it is always recommended to hire a private DUI attorney; it will save you in the long run.