How Much Does a Virginia Beach DUI Attorney Charge?
Getting arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is a serious offense. If you’ve recently been arrested for drunk driving, you need a Virginia Beach DUI lawyer. But you may be wondering how much such a lawyer costs. This article can help.
Other states use different terms for drunken driving, such as driving while intoxicated, or DWI, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI, and operating under the influence or OUI.
The costs of a DUI conviction in Virginia beach can be high. Under Virginia DUI law, the potential penalties for a DUI conviction include at least a $250 fine, revocation of your driver’s license, possible jail time and even forfeiture of your car in some circumstances.
You need an attorney fighting for your rights.
If you truly cannot afford an attorney, you may be appointed a public defender. However, even this lawyer is not free. You will need to pay a fee of at least $120 and will have to pay additional court costs if you are found guilty.
If your income does not qualify you for a public defender, you need to find a private Virginia Beach DUI lawyer.
How Virginia Beach DUI Lawyers Charge for Their Time
In general, Virginia Beach DUI lawyers bill their clients in one of two ways, either with an hourly fee, charging for every hour they work, or with a flat fee, one rate for the lawyer’s services. The two methods work differently, as explained below.
It is possible to try to talk a lawyer’s fees down, but you must make this attempt before you hire a lawyer. Once you have hired someone, it is too late to renegotiate the rates.
Virginia Beach DUI Lawyers Who Bill by the Hour
Hourly fees can vary because of a number of factors, including:
- The lawyer’s experience – a Virginia Beach DUI lawyer who has represented drunk driving clients for many years will charge more than one just out of law school
- The complexity of your case – it may cost more to defend felony charges than misdemeanor charges
- Location of the attorney’s office – the going rate in one area may be more or less than the going rate on the other end of town; for example, a lawyer in Kempsville may charge more than an attorney in Green Run
- Office overhead – the lawyer with a larger staff, bigger office and higher rent may charge more than the lawyer with a one-man shop
DUI lawyers in Virginia Beach who charge by the hour typically ask for a retainer fee. A retainer fee is like a down payment from which the lawyer will withdraw his fees. When the retainer fee is gone, some lawyers will ask that you replenish the retainer, while others will switch you over to monthly billing.
Virginia Beach DUI Attorneys Who Charge a Flat Fee
The judicial process for routine, misdemeanor drunken driving arrests with no unusual circumstances are fairly easy to predict. Virginia Beach DUI lawyers who handle these cases are able to charge a one-time, flat fee for their services.
With a flat fee, you’ll probably be asked to pay the entire amount up front. But do ask if there are any payment plans available and what forms of payment are accepted.
Flat fees are rarely refundable. This means that if you want to switch lawyers mid-case or decide to represent yourself, you are not likely to get your money back.
Other Legal Expenses You May Have to Pay
Neither the flat fee nor the hourly fee covers everything. You will likely be charged many out-of-pocket expenses, such as:
- Court fees
- A paralegal’s time worked on your case
- An investigator’s time, if your lawyer hires one
Make sure you are clear what the lawyer’s legal fees do and do not cover.
Questions to ask a Virginia Beach DUI Attorney
When you first interview a Virginia Beach DUI attorney to see if you want to hire him, ask specific questions about the legal fees, so there will be no unhappy surprises down the road. Some relevant questions to ask include:
- Do you charge by the hour? If so, what is your rate?
- Do you charge a flat fee? If so, what is it? Is it refundable?
- When do you expect payment? What forms of payment do you accept?
- Do you require me to pay a retainer fee? How much would that be? Do I continue to replenish it, or will you switch me over to monthly billing once it has been used?
- What expenses outside of your legal fees do you expect me to pay? Can you give me an estimate for how much they might total?
When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll then know how much a Virginia Beach DUI lawyer costs.