There’s an old saying – “cheap lawyers are not good, and good lawyers are not cheap.” How much a DUI defense attorney will cost you depends on what your goal is regarding your case.
Don’t hire a DUI defense lawyer strictly by price. Most DUI attorney fees are “flat-fee” based. The cheapest attorney will not be the best one to defend your DUI case, as they will do very little for you.
You will want an attorney who cares about your case and that you feel comfortable with. Talk to the attorney directly and find out about his/her training, knowledge, and trial experience.
Don’t assume that just because an attorney has a valid license to practice law, that the attorney is qualified to defend a DUI case. Also, don’t assume that just because someone has a snazzy internet ad or website that they are the best choice.
DUI cases are very complex, but they are defensible, and the knowledge of the attorney defending your case is extremely important.
The analysis of the evidence in a DUI case is essential in getting the best outcome both at the DMV and in Court.
Inexpensive lawyers will usually show up in court at the arraignment hearing and get an offer from the prosecutor or the judge, and they will then continue the hearing out to another date. Then, before the next hearing the lawyer will help you fill out plea documents, have you sign them, and then submit them to the court at the next hearing.
The result is, you are now convicted of a DUI. That is not defending a DUI case; that is helping a client fill out plea documents and facilitating a conviction.
Do your research.
Most criminal attorneys will take on a DUI case, but there is a wide range in the skill level among attorneys.
I Got A DUI – What Do I Do Now?
To defend a DUI, you want an attorney with specialized training and substantial experience defending DUI cases. You want an expert.
Ask the prospective attorney about their Trial history. No attorney can honestly provide a percentage of wins vs. losses, because a percentage assumes all cases are the same; and DUI cases are anything but the same.
Look up the attorney’s bar record at the California State Bar website to see how long he/she has practiced law.
Look at the attorney’s website. Google the attorney’s name and see what comes up. What specialized training does the attorney have? What awards if any? Is the attorney an expert in DUI defense, or does the attorney handle all types of cases, such as bankruptcy, family law, personal injury cases, etc.? Remember the adage: Jack of all trades – master of none.
Keep in mind that even if an attorney works in criminal defense, he or she is not necessarily qualified to handle the defense of a DUI case.
DUI cases are complex to defend and require specialized knowledge in
DUI investigation, field sobriety testing, how the human body processes alcohol and/or drugs, as well as breath, blood and urine test analysis.
Without an expert DUI defense attorney defending you, you will likely not be able to get the best possible result in your DUI case.
Don’t be fooled by paid search engine advertising, or lead generation websites such as Avvo.com; these websites place attorneys’ profiles at the top of the search list because the attorneys are paying them to do so. On Avvo.com there are many attorneys that are listed as having a #10 rating, but have never taken a DUI case to trial. Don’t be fooled by “pay to play” websites or other search engine paid advertising.
Develop a short list, then call and talk to the attorney, not a sales person.
Don’t listen to friends or family who say that you don’t need an attorney. That could be true, but only if you don’t care about what happens to your case.
Knowledge and Expertise is everything.
DUI cases are complex, but they are defensible, and the knowledge of the attorney defending you is crucial.
Remember, the tests for alcohol, drugs, or medication are very complex and errors can occur. In addition, the procedures used by the crime lab when analyzing your blood sample may be faulty, or the analyst may be ignoring best scientific practices and is simply cutting corners.
It is not as simple as just blowing into a machine or having a blood or urine sample taken from a driver. The sciences behind breath testing, and blood or urine sample analysis are very complex; there are many factors that affect the accuracy and reliability of the alleged results.
When defending a DUI case, the question should not be: “what are the results of the chemical test?” The question should be “how did the crime lab arrive at those results, and are those results reliable and accurate?”
Unfortunately, many lawyers that pretend to defend people accused of DUI do not have the knowledge and expertise to successfully challenge the chemical test results, so they take the results at face value, and simply plead their clients guilty in court. You could have done that yourself.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, you need to hire an attorney that has the skill and expertise to truly defend you.