A lot less than what it costs to go to jail for a DUI! Aside from that fact, costs can depend on a variety of factors, but a typical case will cost between $1500 and $20,000 on average.
Keep in mind that there are many different ways to set up fees for DUI lawyers. Different lawyers charge in different ways, and this is true for more than just DUI charges.
Here are all the different DUI attorney prices, how they are billed, how they are calculated, and what you need to think about when figuring out how much one will cost.
#1: Hourly Billing
When an attorney bills you by the hour, you pay for the time they spend on your case. This is the same as getting a bill for time and materials in the construction business or for parts and work when getting your car fixed.
The average hourly rate for a DUI lawyer is between $150 for a new lawyer and over $500 for a very experienced one.
On average, a DUI case takes between 10 and 40 hours to finish. If you pay by the hour, that adds up to anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000 in costs.
If there isn’t a jury trial or a move to hide evidence, a first-time DUI case that is resolved usually takes 10 hours or less. That means you have to pay between $1500 and $5000. If you get a DUI for the first time, it takes about 6 more hours to prepare motions and show them to the court if evidence needs to be hidden. This could cost you an extra $900 to $3000.
If you have to go to trial, it could take anywhere from 25 hours to 100 hours, which means that on an hourly scale, you might pay between $3,750 and $50,000. Even if you don’t believe it, less than 10% of criminal cases are ever tried by a jury.
There are pros and cons to paying by the hour. It can be the most cost-effective way to bill if there aren’t many or any problems with the case. This is because the case won’t take as long. If there is a big lawsuit, if blood and breath samples were taken without permission, or if there is a jury hearing, hourly billing could be very expensive.
In DUI situations, the Cohen Defense Group rarely charges by the hour. We only charge by the hour if it’s not clear if there will be a prosecution or if there’s a new legal question and the client only wants us to do study.
If we think your case is going to court, we don’t charge you by the hour. When we go to court on your behalf, we become your official attorney. If you don’t pay, we still have to go to court because you still have us on file as your lawyer. This is one reason why some DUI lawyers ask for a big deposit fee, which they then use to pay their bills.
We don’t like billing by the hour because we think people hire lawyers to give them advice. If you think you’ll get a bill every time you talk on the phone or send an email, you’re less likely to take that advice. It drives a wedge between them.
You are stuck trying to decide if the question is important enough to pay for the answer. That’s risky because you might not know enough to know if the question is important or not.
We want you to talk to us, and we want you to feel like you can count on us.
#2: Contingency Fee Billing
This is often the case in legal cases involving injuries. In these cases, the lawyer pays for everything. As a contingency fee, they take a portion of the money that is recovered once the case is settled or won in court.
In California, crime cases can’t be paid for based on how well they turn out. For a DUI, no lawyer should offer this.
#3: Flat Fee Representation
This is the only fee you have to pay for your DUI case to go all the way to a jury hearing.
If your case is easy, you might pay too much, but if it’s complicated, you might pay too little. You’ll also know right from the start how much money you’ll need.
With the flat fee approach, a first-time DUI lawyer in California will usually charge between $5,000 and $10,000.
This is, of course, very expensive and not a good idea in most DUI situations. Most DUI cases are not special. There are a set number of court dates and moves that almost all DUI cases must follow. Also, since most cases are settled or go to court before the hearing, paying a flat fee for a lawyer means spending a lot of money on services that probably won’t be done.
Flat-fee counsel also puts the client against the lawyer because the lawyer has a financial reason to finish the case quickly: the faster the case moves, the more money the lawyer makes. And from the client’s point of view, the early offer might not seem good, even if it involves diversion or a shorter term, because the client hasn’t seen the lawyer do anything and has paid a lot of money for the lawyer to do something.
#4: Task-Based Billing
With task-based billing, you pay flat fees for things that happen in every case and are usually the same. We think this is the best and most effective way to bill for most cases at the Cohen Defense Group.
General Representation Fees
With task-based billing, there is a fee for general representation, which includes going to court, talking to clients, reviewing government papers related to your case, negotiating settlements, and going to court.
Fees Above and Beyond General Representation
At our first meeting with you, we’ll look over your case and tell you how much it will cost for general assistance. We will also give you price ranges for things that may or may not happen in your case, such as jury trials, motions to suppress evidence, work on an appeal, and a DMV meeting. In the simplest cases, none of these things will be needed, so you’ll only have to pay the general representation fee.
Prices vary for these add-ons. For example, a two-day trial with three witnesses is much cheaper than a four- to five-day trial that might include an expert on crash reconstruction or forensic toxicology.
How much will the fees be for task-based billing? For general counsel, you can expect the fees to be on the lower end of the range shown in the hourly fees above.
How Much Does a First Offense DUI Cost with Task-Based Billing?
With the task-based billing method, the cost of a first DUI is usually between $2,000 and $4,000. Your case will fall somewhere in this range depending on whether there was an accident, a blood or breath test, and how many witnesses there are.
As each case is different, the DUI lawyer in the company you meet with will be able to look at yours and give you an accurate quote for fees.
If you pay less than this, it’s likely that you’ll get someone who isn’t very skilled or who just got out of law school.
Most of the time, this is how the Cohen Defense Group works.
What About Those Mailers Offering a Low Price for DUI Cases?
This happens a lot in big towns, even in Sacramento.
Some lawyers just show up in court, but they don’t really fight for your case. They aren’t doing the real law work that needs to be done to get the best possible result for your case. They just fill out forms on your behalf.
We hear from a lot of lawyers who say they’ll take $750 for a first-time DUI case, even if it goes to court. At that price, that lawyer can’t be giving all the services that are needed. That probably means they aren’t even considering your case. Be careful.
How Much Does a DUI Jury Trial Cost?
We sometimes charge a trial fee that never goes away. In this method, we guess how long the case will take and ask for a deposit for that number of hours. As the customer, you have to put more money into the trust account so that the lawyer can work more hours.
For instance, we might ask for a deposit for 20 hours, but we know that we could take up to 40. If we work more than your 20 hours, you would need to put down more money to cover the extra work.
For testing, we sometimes charge a daily rate. One of our lawyers, for example, asks $2,000 per day for a jury trial. Each day in court takes about 14 hours, 6 to 7 of which are spent in the courtroom. Two hours of preparation are needed for every hour of practice. So, if we add up the cost by the hour, it’s more like $4,000. When we charge by the day instead of by the hour, our clients save a lot of money.
On average, it costs $1,500 a day for a junior lawyer to go to trial, but it can cost up to $3,000 a day for a senior lawyer. Most DUI trials last between 2 and 3 days. Some can go on for up to 5 days. That much money pays for everything. Even though expert witnesses do add to the cost of some cases.