How Much Does a DUI Attorney in Kansas City Cost?
Once you are arrested for a DUI in Kansas City, finding an attorney should be one of your highest priorities. Driving under the influence is a very serious crime in Missouri, and you will want an experienced lawyer on your side. You are probably wondering how much an attorney costs. Here, we will explain how lawyers bill for their time.
There are several different ways that Kansas City DUI lawyers can bill for their time.
The Hourly Rate Billing Method
For a DUI in Kansas City, you may meet with lawyers who bill by the hour. With an hourly rate, you pay for all the time your Kansas City DWI attorney works on your case, no matter how your case turns out.
Hourly fees can vary a lot and depend on many different factors.
Education, experience and reputation can impact how much a lawyer charges. In Missouri, a drunk driving arrest actually triggers two cases against you—one is criminal and the other is administrative through the Missouri Department of Revenue.
If the attorney has a great deal of experience defending DUI cases or is well-known for successful results, he will charge more. If he is known for getting DUI cases moved to a Missouri drug court or getting a DUI charge changed from a a felony to a misdemeanor, he will also charge more than one who has less experience or who usually practices other types of law.
Location can make a difference, too. An attorney who has a large office downtown may charge more than one who works by himself in Independence.
When attorneys bill by the hour, they actually bill in six- or 15-minute increments, and you will pay every time your lawyer works on your case. Whether your lawyer bills in six minutes or 15 minutes makes a big difference to your final bill. A lawyer who spends four minutes answering an e-mail about your case will charge you for six minutes, if that's how he bills. Or, if he bills in 15 minute increments, he will bill you for 15 minutes for the four minutes he spends on the e-mail.
Remember, though, that an attorney who charges more per hour may be cheaper in the long run, if he can work more efficiently than a less-expensive lawyer who works more slowly.
With an hourly rate, you also pay the lawyer's expenses. For example, if your attorney has to travel to interview a witness to your DUI in Kansas City, he will charge you travel expenses along with his hourly rate.
You may be asked to pay a retainer, or up-front deposit, when you hire your lawyer, and then he will bill you regularly after that.
One of the disadvantages of hourly rates is how unpredictable the entire bill for your DUI in Kansas City may be. Costs will add up the longer your case goes on.
However, on the plus side, your attorney won't have any incentive to settle early or push you into an agreement since he will be paid no matter how the case turns out.
The Flat Fee Billing Method
For a Kansas City DUI case, you may also meet with lawyers who bill through a flat fee. With a flat fee, you and the attorney agree to a fee up front, and that's the rate you pay.
For a drunk driving case, you may also find lawyers who have a tiered flat fee structure--that is, they may charge a set fee for different parts of your case. For example, a lawyer may charge one flat fee for everything leading up to a trial. Then, if your case proceeds to trial, he will charge another flat fee.
With a flat fee, you may be expected to pay the entire amount up front, and you should ask about whether court fees and other expenses are extra. You should also ask if the fee is refundable in case you change your mind about your lawyer and want to hire another one.
You may have heard of lawyers who accept a case on a contingent fee basis, where they only get paid if you win a cash award or settlement. This only applies in cases where you could get money, which will not happen in a DUI case.
Interviewing Lawyers About Your DUI in Kansas City
During your initial consultation with a Kansas City DWI attorney, you should ask a lot of questions about fees, so you understand how you will be billed if you hire the lawyer.
Be sure to ask what kind of fee the lawyer charges, and what that fee is. Make sure you understand what is extra. If the attorney charges by the hour, see if he can estimate how much your total DUI defense might cost. Also, be sure that you understand how and when the attorney expects to be paid.
Once you understand how much your DUI attorney in Kansas City costs, you will have a better idea of which attorney to hire.