If you were recently stopped while driving and ultimately arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), one of the first questions you are likely asking yourself is whether you should hire a lawyer to represent you. Frequently, a DUI defendant is an otherwise law abiding citizen who may have exhibited a momentary lapse in judgment. If you fall into that category, it means you probably know very little about how the criminal justice system actually works. Consequently, you may not have enough information to make the right decision about hiring an attorney. Read on to find out why, when you do a cost benefit analysis, hiring a DUI lawyer will almost always cost you less than a DUI conviction.
Why Would You Not Hire a DUI Lawyer?
For most people who have experience in the criminal justice system, the question they are asking is why would you even consider not hiring an attorney? Anytime you are accused of a crime, the first step should always be to hire an experienced defense attorney. Sometimes, however, a DUI defendant hesitates when it comes to retaining the services of an attorney for several reasons. First, there is a very good chance that the law enforcement officer who arrested you, and the prosecuting attorney if you already had an initial hearing, made it sound like your conviction is a foregone conclusion so why bother with an attorney. Second, you may not fully understand the judicial and non-judicial consequences of a DUI conviction. Finally, you probably want the whole thing over and done with as soon as possible, making you an easy target for a prosecutor looking for another easy guilty plea agreement on his/her record. Although all of these explanations are understandable, given your lack of experience as a defendant, none of them is an acceptable excuse for not hiring a DUI defense attorney.
The Cost of a DUI Conviction
Even those who have never been arrested for anything before know that a DUI conviction is expensive. You may not know just how expensive though. Consider some of the common expenses that you will incur as a result of a DUI conviction:
- Car insurance – you undoubtedly realize your car insurance premiums will increase; however, you may not know how much and for how long. A recent study obtained insurance quotes for fictional drivers across the country. For each insurance company, three quotes were obtained. The only difference among the three fictional drivers was that one had a clean record, one had a DUI conviction, and one had a negligent or reckless driving conviction. The results showed that drivers with a DUI pay, on average, $830 per year for at least three years. In total, expect to pay, on average, at least $2,500 more in car insurance premiums with a DUI conviction. By comparison, the driver with a negligent/reckless driving conviction paid, on average, about $1000 more than the driver with the clean record but $1500 less than the driver with the DUI conviction. Clearly, even a reduction in the severity of the conviction makes a big difference.
- Court costs and fines – in Nebraska, a first-time DUI conviction includes a $500 fine plus court costs.
- Ignition interlock device (IID) fees – according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), expect to pay $75-$150 to install an IID plus a monthly monitoring fee of $60-$80 for each month the device is required. In total, an IID could easily cost you $500-$1000 or more.
- Probation fees – if you receive a probation sentence in lieu of jail time, you can expect to monthly monitoring fees of $50-$100 for 12 months or more, totaling $600-$1,200.
- Alcohol evaluation and/or treatment – if the court feels you have a substance abuse problem, you could be ordered to submit to an evaluation and treatment if deemed necessary. The cost of that evaluation and treatment could be pricey if you don’t have insurance to cover the costs. Even a sliding scale treatment option will likely cost you at least $100 a month for several months for a conservative estimate of $500.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer vs. Paying for a Conviction
Keep in mind that the above costs reflect only the direct judicial costs of a DUI conviction. Non-judicial costs include things such as the loss of a current job and lost future job opportunities, professional discipline, and/or the inability to become a citizen. All of these non-judicial consequences also involve a cost to you. Conservatively, the judicial costs will run you $4,500 or more plus you will have a criminal conviction on your record. When you start to balk at the cost of hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer, who may be able to prevent a conviction or get the charges reduced, remember what a DUI conviction will cost you if you decide not to hire an attorney.
Contact a DUI Lawyer
If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska, contact an experienced DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.