Drunk driving is considered a crime and claims more than 10,000 lives each year. Those caught driving impaired could lose their license, face fines, and go to prison.
Twelve percent of Americans admit to driving drunk regularly, but this dangerous habit could have serious consequences.
If you’re facing an intoxicated driving charge, it’s time to consider how to approach your case. While you may be concerned about the DWI lawyer cost, you want an attorney who will fight to keep a conviction off your record.
Read on to find out more about what to expect in terms of your DWI case expenses.
Determining DWI Lawyer Cost
In Texas, a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is a misdemeanor. A driving while impaired (DWI) charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Any time you’re driving with a blood-alcohol content of higher than .08%, you can be pulled over and charged.
Lawyers for DUI usually cost between $1,000 and $5,000. There are a number of factors that come into play when determining this cost. For example, if you’re facing a second or third DWI offense, expect your legal fees to be higher.
Another factor is whether the attorney charges an hourly fee or a flat fee. An Austin DWI lawyer charging an hourly fee will typically ask you to pay a retainer, or down payment, on their services.
An attorney charging a flat fee receives all the money up front. It’s important to get in writing exactly what this arrangement covers. Often court fees are not included in a flat fee package.
Before you choose a lawyer to represent you in court, you should ask them questions such as the following:
- What does your rate include?
- When do you expect payment?
- How much is the fee if I plead guilty or work out a plea deal?
- How much is the fee if I want to take the case to trial?
- Are payment plans available?
- What other fees should I expect to pay?
Why You Want to Avoid a DWI Conviction
A DWI conviction will follow you around for the rest of your life. You want to avoid this outcome if at all possible.
Every time you apply for a job, your potential employer will run a criminal background check — and find that drunk driving conviction.
If you can still get car insurance, you will pay more for it. One study found that a single DUI resulted in a 72% increase in premiums.
And for those facing multiple convictions, things only get bleaker. A second conviction could result in the loss of your driver’s license for up to two years.
If it’s your third DWI offense, this is considered a felony, and you could face prison time of two to ten years. Repeat offenders may be required to install a breathalyzer device on their vehicle which locks them out if alcohol is detected on their breath.
Other DWI Fees
Beyond legal fees, you should expect to pay other costs. Chief among those is fines, including:
- First offense: $2,000
- Second offense: $4,000
- Third offense: $10,000
An impaired driving conviction can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license, so you’ll need to budget for other transportation arrangements. If you want your license back, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee.
The state may require you to pay other penalties as well, such as fees for testing and screening. You may be charged for mandatory substance abuse classes too.
Beyond costs for a lawyer’s time, you may be charged other related legal expenses, including:
- An investigator’s time
- Fees for expert witnesses
- Travel expenses
- A paralegal’s fees
That said, these costs can be crucial in winning your case. A qualified investigator, for example, could find important evidence or poke a hole in a witness’s statement.
Public Defenders and Representing Yourself in Court
One way to minimize your costs is to choose a public defender. These attorneys handle many DUI cases and will be familiar with the law.
That said, public defenders tend to have large caseloads, so your individual case will receive little attention. Additionally, you have no choice over which lawyer gets your case.
Representing yourself in court is never recommended. The learning curve for trial law is steep. Any judge presiding over your case will have little to no patience if you aren’t knowledgeable about relevant legal rules and procedures.
There’s a better way forward than going with a public defender or representing yourself in court.
Hiring an Experienced Attorney
The best choice is to find a private lawyer experienced in defending clients charged with impaired driving.
Simply hiring the cheapest attorney you can find is almost certain to backfire. When you’re facing a DWI conviction, that money you saved up front won’t seem like such a bargain.
A high-quality attorney will have a variety of tools at their disposal to fight these charges.
For instance, if you were outside the vehicle when police arrived at the scene, a seasoned attorney could make an argument that casts reasonable doubt about whether you were operating the vehicle.
Many of the tools police use to determine if a driver is drunk are inaccurate or are used improperly. Here again, an attorney will find any holes in the prosecution’s argument.
Additionally, a lawyer who’s handled many similar cases will know how to help you minimize your time in court. This can be especially important if you have regular working hours or other responsibilities.
How to Fight a DWI Charge the Right Way
The bottom line is that you want to find a DUI lawyer with experience in these cases who can protect your interests. While an experienced DWI lawyer cost might be higher up front, it’s the best way forward to avoid a conviction.
Deandra Grant Law is here to help you win your DWI case. Contact us now through our web form or call us at (512) 279-6600.