It's difficult for a person with no legal experience or training to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a drunk driving case. DUI law is complex and constantly changing, and the details of every case are unique. So, getting the opinion of an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer can be valuable.
Our DUI criminal defense lawyers give prospective clients a free initial consultation. Bring your police report and any other important documents you have to the consultation to make the best use of your time.
It may also help to bring a list of questions you want to get answered. You don't have to hire an experienced attorney you consult with. But meeting face-to-face is a good way to gauge whether things will work out with the potential attorney you're thinking of hiring.
Should I Get a DUI Criminal Defense Lawyer for My First DUI?
Often prosecutors have a standard first-time drunk driving offense plea offer. This means they offer every first-time DUI offender the same plea deal, which is the lower end of the allowable first-time drunk driving sentence. A DUI criminal offense is considered a standard first DUI if the offender has no previous DUI convictions and the criminal charge doesn’t involve any aggravating factors such as motor vehicle accidents, personal injuries, or high blood alcohol content.
A standard plea offer is the same regardless of whether the DUI offender is represented by a private DUI lawyer, public defender, or if the defendant hires self-represents them. Thus, it seems like hiring an experienced lawyer in a standard first DUI case isn’t worth it. This is true for some drunk driving charges, but in reality, the standard plea deal is just a starting point.
An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney can whittle down the standard plea offer by pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case or bringing mitigating factors to the prosecutor’s attention. An experienced Chicago DUI lawyer with familiarity with local laws, the district attorney, and the judge can help significantly with these types of negotiations.
Accepting a standard plea offer is a good idea, especially if you have viable defenses and relevant evidence. However, if you choose not to hire a DUI criminal defense attorney for your first DUI, you may not know if there are such defense options. Thus, before accepting any plea offers, it's crucial for first-time offenders to get an attorney’s legal opinion.
Though you’re eligible for self-representation in a DUI trial, it’s not a good idea. The learning curve for trial practices and drunk driving laws is steep, and it comes only with extensive experience. A lack of trial skills and legal expertise will put you at a massive disadvantage in court.
Further, judges have no patience for unrepresented defendants who don’t understand the rules of court. Thus, if your drunk driving case is likely to go to criminal court, you must hire a legal representative to represent you. Also, a DUI criminal defense attorney can get your first-time drunk driving charges reduced to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving, which carries a lesser sentence.
Learn More: What to Do After a DUI in Chicago
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago?
If you have been arrested or convicted for an alcohol-related traffic offense, it’s time to call an experienced DUI lawyer. An experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer knows what your legal options are and can guide you throughout the entire process. A DUI criminal defense lawyer can help you after a drunk driving arrest through the pretrial period and during the court trial if necessary.
Also, an experienced attorney can keep track of the relevant documents on your behalf, file the appropriate documents as required, and attend court hearings on your behalf, which means you don’t have to make multiple trips to the court just to drop paperwork.
Also, a skilled DUI criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) process to get your license reinstated. Often, after a drunk driving arrest, you’re subject to an automatic suspension. License reinstatement requires you to update your SR-22 insurance certificate, file paperwork, and other crucial steps.
Many DUI lawyers and other defense lawyers charge a flat fee, which is calculated after consultation with potential clients to learn the details of their case. Some DUI criminal defense attorneys charge $2,000-$4,000 for misdemeanor DUI offense representation. Felony DUI charges bring a higher flat rate.
Not all DUI lawyers charge a flat fee, however. The following factors can affect the cost for a DUI lawyer who does not do so:
Factors That Affect the Cost of a Lawyer
Often, a blood alcohol concentration result that’s higher than the legal limit is a criminal offense. So, you may be arrested, held in jail awaiting arraignment, and then tried in criminal court. However, most drunk driving cases don’t go to a criminal trial. Similar to other criminal defense attorneys, DUI attorneys mostly charge a flat rate to offer pre-trial legal representation and an additional flat fee to defend clients in criminal court at trial.
Nationally, the average cost for a DUI lawyer is $1,500-$3,000. Typically, DUI criminal defense attorneys charge less for first-time misdemeanor convictions and they charge more for felony offenses. Generally, the average DUI lawyer costs $1,900, and other attorney fees average $4,000 for a total drunk driving cost between $5,000 and $8,000. The attorney fees depend on whether you accept a plea offer or take your intoxicated driving case to trial.
DUI criminal defense attorneys can charge $700 to $1,500 when accepting a plea bargain, and $1,500 to $4,000 if your case goes to a jury trial. Also, some DUI criminal defense lawyers charge by the hour. The average hourly rate is $250 per hour. Depending on the drunk driving lawyer and location, you might pay $200 to $1000 per hour. The benefit here is that if your case resolves quickly, you won’t have to pay much. You will only be charged for the short time period the attorney worked on your case.
Consultation Fees. Many DUI lawyers and other defense lawyers charge a flat fee, which is calculated after consultation with potential clients to learn the details of their case. Some DUI criminal defense attorneys charge $2,000-$4,000 for misdemeanor DUI offense representation. Felony DUI charges bring a higher flat rate.
What Can a Chicago DUI Lawyer Do for My Case?
If you’re underage and you’re caught driving while drunk, you face very strict criminal penalties. Hiring a DUI criminal defense attorney for underage drunk driving offenses can reduce your jail sentence. Many states want to prevent underage drinking and driving, and so, the blood alcohol level for underage drivers is much lower. Most states in the United States have a zero-tolerance law, where any amount of alcohol detected in an underage driver can cause a DUI arrest.
Also, minors are likely to face drunk driving charges for underage drinking besides DUI. So having a seasoned DUI attorney who has represented many clients who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is invaluable.
If you drive for a living, you face stricter criminal penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For instance, if you’re a commercial driver and your livelihood depends on your commercial driver’s license (CDL), it’s essential to hire a DUI criminal defense lawyer to help you deal with additional penalties, such as loss of professional license and criminal conviction. At Ktenas Law, our skilled Cook County DUI attorneys are dedicated to providing affordable defense options to clients charged with drunk driving offenses to mitigate the negative consequences that come with drunk driving charges and to protect your legal rights.
Our law firm also focuses on driver’s license law and representing those seeking driver's license reinstatement of their suspended or revoked driving privileges before the Illinois Secretary of State. From misdemeanor charges and felony DUI charges to the complex license reinstatement hearings, we’re dedicated to offering high-quality drunk driving defense to protect the constitutional rights of our clients and help them keep a clean driving record.
To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our criminal defense law firm today at 312-800-1626, or use our contact form to learn how we can help.