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How Much Does A DWI Lawyer Cost?



If police have arrested you for driving while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs (also known as DWI), you will need a DWI defense lawyer. If you're curious about how much one costs, this article can help.

DWI charges are also known as driving under the influence, or DUI; operating while intoxicated, or OWI; and operating a vehicle intoxicated, or OVI.

Whatever it's called in your state, DWI charges can be serious. Whether you were caught at one of the DUI checkpoints law enforcement sometimes set up or just while driving down the road, you face any number of penalties, including:

  • Loss of your license
  • Fines
  • Mandatory drug or alcohol education
  • Having an Interlock Ignition device installed on your car - it acts like a breathalyzer that can prevent you from starting your car if you have alcohol on your breath
  • Jail time

With so much at stake, you should not represent yourself in court. You need a DWI lawyer at your side. If you cannot afford one, the court may appoint you a public defender. You will have to prove your income qualifies you for a public defender.

If you do not qualify, you should seek out a private DUI lawyer.

How DWI Lawyers Bill for Their Time

In interviewing DWI attorneys, you will find that they charge their clients in one of two ways: Either by the hour or with a single flat fee. Lawyers who regularly represent clients facing misdemeanor DUI charges may charge a flat fee because they know what to expect. If your case is complex or you are facing felony DUI charges, it's more likely that your lawyer would charge an hourly fee.

Many factors can influence how much a DWI lawyer charges, such as:

  • Background: Experienced lawyers may charge more
  • Location: The going rate in some areas may be higher than others
  • Office overhead: How much the lawyer pays for rent and the size of the staff can affect the fees

Don't automatically assume a lawyer who charges a higher hourly rate will cost you more in the long run. If you are paying for an experienced DWI lawyer, your case may be resolved faster.

Neither flat fees nor hourly fees include everything. With them, you are paying for your lawyer's time. But you may also be billed separately for other expenses, such as court fees, photocopying and use of a paralegal.

Questions to ask DWI Defense Attorneys

While you are still in the interview phase of your search, be sure to ask the DWI defense attorneys you meet about their fees. Some suggestions include:

  • Do you charge by the hour? What is your rate? Do I have to pay a larger sum up front?
  • Do you charge a flat fee? If so, what is it? What does it include? What does it not include? Is it refundable?
  • What other expenses do you expect me to pay? Do you have an idea how much they could total?
  • How do I pay you? When do I pay you? Do you offer any payment plans?

The answers to these questions will help you understand just how much a DWI lawyer costs. When you have hired your attorney, you are ready to face your DUI charges in court.