By: William C. Head, Attorney in Atlanta, Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
Attorney Fees Vary Widely Based on Supply and Demand
When facing an arrest for driving under the influence, one of the biggest decisions the accused individual has to make is which DUI lawyer to hire. The stumbling block for most people is knowing the true Atlanta DUI lawyer cost. We know this because no celebrity, TV personality, or sports star goes to a DUI court without the best DUI attorney they can find, since money for legal fees is not an object.
Lawyer fees for DUI are a mere pittance to these financially secure individuals, whose careers can suffer a multi-million dollar impact from bad publicity from a criminal conviction, or lose pay for missed games in mid-season, for a professional athlete. At all costs, they seek to avoid jail time for drunk driving. A few athletes have potential DUI immigration issues, especially in situations for professional athletes.
But, cost of a DUI lawyer is one of many financial considerations you must consider before opting to not fight, and enter a plea of guilty to driving under the influence. DUI penalties and long-term consequences of DUI will haunt you for decades, if not the remainder of your life. This article comprehensively and exhaustively covers the fact that DUI consequences can be far more expensive than the DUI attorney cost of hiring the best criminal lawyer in Georgia.
Great results are what all accused impaired drivers should seek when they hire a criminal defense lawyer. The top DUI attorneys are available for both celebrities and hard-working citizens with TOO MUCH TO LOSE to not fight their DUI arrest. DUI defense attorney fees at our DUI law firm can be paid over time, since our criminal cases typically last for many months or even years. So, the common answer to “Do I need a DUI lawyer?” is a resounding YES, of course. So, now we turn to differences in attorneys’ legal practice areas and (ultimately) to a discussion of lawyer fees for DUI.
The legal field has attorneys in about 60 definable law practice areas. But these sixty or so major categories have over 1,000 sub-specialties. One of the major practice areas is criminal defense, and under the general sub-category of “motor vehicle crimes," drunk driving defense is a well-recognized and highly specialized sub-specialty of criminal defense in America.
A criminal justice lawyer who, through experience in courtrooms, has acquired specialized and advanced training in forensic science, infrared spectroscopy (breath alcohol test devices), blood testing analytics, field sobriety test protocols, drug testing and toxicological effects, and alcohol ingestion and elimination is a DUI specialist. These criminal defense specialists are recognized by the four top, peer-reviewed attorney rating organizations, and possess knowledge and track records that justify being categorized as one of the best DUI lawyers in America.
Just like a general practitioner in medical practice, the legal field has some attorneys who are general practice attorneys. These attorneys typically spend their time drawing up wills, handling divorces and child custody, incorporating a business, handling a real estate loan closing, or acting as a “bad debt” collections lawyer for a bank or finance company.
In this century, which has been dubbed “the Internet century,” such general practitioners are disappearing, as law practice across America and the world arena have become much more complex and more difficult to master. The most likely place to see such general practice attorneys might be in Mayberry, NC, the fictional 1960s town of the Andy Griffith Show.
Many newly-admitted attorneys, including Atlanta DUI lawyer William C. Head in June of 1976, had to be “generalists” when they first came out of law school, because any legal fee would provide an income and put food on the table. The same is often true for surgeons --- they must start their medical careers on SOME patient, somewhere, to get started in their careers.
However, as the years pass, after gaining courtroom experience, and establishing “track records” of success in certain legal practice areas, almost all attorneys end up in a sub-specialty and will become extremely well-known for that special talent in getting excellent results. For Mr. Head, criminal law and defending citizens charged with crimes began to emerge as his specialty in the late 1980s, once his reputation for winning spread in cases where everyone expected his clients to lose.
A criminal justice attorney in Atlanta, neither Bubba Head nor his partners have ever been the Prosecutor in a criminal case, since their passion for the law has been to protect citizens from intrusions of the Government. A certain mindset, and the benefit of doing the same type of law for so long instills a CONFIDENCE level that is not easy to explain.
Once an attorney’s reputation begins to spread, economics take over, and (with decades of experience) the best criminal lawyers in a particular legal practice area will charge more than those other criminal attorneys who are just starting the path of learning about this criminal litigation sub-specialty -DUI defense. Like in other businesses, supply and demand controls fees and pricing for the best DUI attorneys.
Similar to other Americans, each attorney typically works about 2,000 hours each year. How each criminal lawyer approaches his or her practice will soon be known by the people in his or her local court system. Courthouse personnel KNOW who fights, who wins, and who is recognized as one of the top attorneys in Georgia. In Mr. Head’s national DUI law book (that he wrote for his clients), The DUI Book, chapter 4 explains this universal maxim about Court personnel being a great source for identifying top criminal defense lawyers.
The DUI attorneys with the best lawyer reviews and industry rankings are hired to WIN their clients’ drunk driving cases, not just negotiate a guilty plea. So, fighting a criminal case takes far more time than just negotiating a guilty plea. By virtue of this dynamic of “fighting versus pleading,” the top DUI lawyers may be limited to only being able to handle 50 criminal cases that average 40 hours of their time in any calendar year.
The attorney who is a generalist, or lacks all the advanced training and trial experience of the best drunk driving attorneys, lives off volume by charging low fees and processing hundreds of DUI cases annually. He or she and may open and close 400 criminal defense or other files of all types -- since he or she is a “jack-of-all-trades” --- for his or her 2,000 hours of work.
A general practice attorney trying to pay office rent and put food on the table will quote VERY low fees for DUI defense. These low-ball fees almost always match up to VERY low value for the accused client facing serious criminal charges like driving under the influence.
Using the example above, how can a serious criminal DUI charge be investigated, have targeted suppression motions filed, locate and hire expert witnesses, meet with and evaluate eyewitnesses, plus see that the administrative license suspension issues are handled, and view & outline all the videotape footage from police cars or police body cameras watched. Then, add mandatory court appearances at arraignment and calendar call, and time to conduct negotiations with the prosecutor, possibly go to a pre-trial conference, and handle a multi-day trial, and do ALL of this for a low-dollar amount?
Add to these criminal case tasks the likelihood of attending several administrative license suspension hearings in almost every drunk driving case (due to the Georgia implied consent law notice being read after any DUI arrest) , argue and “brief” the legal issues of the criminal case at a pre-trial motion hearing, and (if necessary) go to trial and handle a possible appeal. Can all THIS be done for one “low-ball” fee? It certainly cannot be done in FIVE hours.
What Does the “One-Price” DUI Lawyer Contract Cover?
We routinely receive calls from people asking our DUI law firm, “How much does a DUI cost?” That is a loaded question, since the criminal attorney cannot know much about this case, or the DUI driver’s prior record, or how much self-incriminatory evidence he or she gave to the police. Hundreds of factors can affect a person’s chances of winning a driving while intoxicated case.
So, our office prefers to not quote DUI legal fees over the phone, because this is akin to a person with a bad stomach ache calling a doctor and asking “What will I have to pay to fix my stomach?” Without further examination and patient history, what physician would offer a diagnosis over the phone? The answer is, a QUACK Doctor. You should NARROW your DUI lawyer choices to two or three attorneys, then go VISIT EACH ONE.
Criminal defense lawyer fees are not like civil attorney fees. Personal injury attorneys usually handle cases on a contingency fee arrangement, wherein the civil justice attorney shares the financial recovery with the injured person (or with the person’s family, if the person suffering harm through a negligent or careless act has been killed due to some act of negligence). However, contingency fees are illegal and unenforceable in all states for criminal defense.
This leaves two other options for criminal defense attorneys: HOURLY fees, or FLAT FEES in a written contract arrangement. While our DUI law firm would love to require ANY client to pay us hourly fees, we know that this arrangement would be a potential “bottomless pit,” and signing a fee agreement with no legal fee “cap” is foolhardy. So, “flat DUI fees” in incremental stages of the case is what the best DUI lawyers utilize, since they know --- on average --- the time commitment and the skill level that is necessary to REGULARLY win complex criminal law cases for DUI law firms at the top of their game.
The State Bar of Georgia and State Bars in all other states recommend written agreements for legal fees in all private criminal defense lawyer cases. With rare exceptions, the top DUI attorneys in America will set their legal fees as “flat fees” that are paid in increments or segments as the DWI-DUI case progresses. A substantial retainer (the initial segment required to be paid to accept a new client’s DUI prosecution) is first collected, because once a DUI defense lawyer enters his or her name as the “attorney of record,” later seeking to be released from being the drunk driving attorney for this new client (i.e., if the client failed to make a subsequent fee payment) would require court approval and a possible hearing.
Plus, the drunken driving lawyer will be handling TWO distinct jobs: (1) saving the Georgia driver’s license at the administrative license suspension (or revocation) hearing AND (2) fighting the DUI for as long and as far as the client directs the criminal justice attorney to go forward.
As the DUI Criminal Case Progresses, How Often Will I Have to Pay Additional DUI Defense Attorney Fees or Costs?
Each case is different, so this is a tough question. For example, one Client’s DUI facts may show that the accused driver pulled up to a DUI checkpoint, remained silent, did not self-incriminate, did not take any roadside tests or field sobriety tests, declined the portable breath test, and refused the implied consent breath alcohol test. This is a likely case for the GA DUI charge to be reduced to reckless driving (or even a lesser offense) based upon our experience at our law office, for most criminal law courts that we appear before. No DUI expert witness is likely to be needed to win (or to get the DUI reduced to reckless driving), and no motion hearing is likely to occur (much less a DUI trial).
The next Client’s case may include bad driving, bad behavior, an accident, with the client self-incriminating by talking a blue streak, attempting to pass the non-scientific field sobriety tests, and taking all of the police tests that create evidence that is admissible at trial. This second example --- to WIN --- WILL likely involve more than one expert witness, plus both motions and a jury trial. And the pre-trial motion hearing for such a case will last all day, as your criminal defense attorney seeks to exclude as much of this damning evidence from the case so that you have a chance to win at trial.
Looking at our DUI law firm’s statistics for the past 10 years, our criminal lawyers get about 65% of our driving under the influence cases favorably resolved without motions or trial. When that occurs, then no new legal fees for pre-trial motions or for trial are required. Your initial retainer pays the full DUI attorney fees in this example. Our client gets what he or she wants, without the stress, cost, and uncertainty of pursuing trial or motions.
For cases not resolved before motions and/or trial, we require the next, flat fee segment of DUI lawyer fees to be satisfied. At this stage, many contested DUI cases will also need an expert witness to be paid by our Client. This witness (or possibly witnesses) may be brought to court to testify at a pre-trial motions hearing, based on legal challenges that your criminal defense lawyer filed on your behalf.
The usual motions filed by our DUI law firm will seek to suppress or exclude harmful evidence that the Prosecutor plans to use at trial to convict you. The most common evidence that our DUI attorneys seek to exclude are any defectively-administered or defectively-instructed field sobriety tests, or we try to exclude Georgia implied consent law DUI refusal, or try to eliminate the DUI breath alcohol test and DUI blood test. In many cases, we will need to bring in two experts to help win the DUI case.
If necessary, the next DUI attorney fees are for pre-trial motions, which are usually heard by the Judge at a separate time from the trial date. Insofar as what is involved in a pre-trial motion, these hearings can take half a day (about 75% of the time, in our DUI law firm’s experience) or all day (about 20+% of the time), or even more than one day (rarely). But the preparation time and legal research time, on Westlaw, for the criminal defense attorney and staff can be 5 to 10 hours for a complex motion, and these are hours spent before ever walking into the courthouse.
After a Motions Hearing, Are Cases Ever Appealed Before Trial Occurs? (Yes, In a Few Cases)
In the event of an interim appeal before the criminal trial occurs, such an appeal is taken to a new, different appellate court. Appeals of this type require virtually a completely different skill set. The DUI lawyer cost for this appeal is virtually always written into the fee agreement as a separate fee. Almost any DUI appeal will require 25 to 60 hours of DUI attorney time. Remember, only 2,000 hours a year are usually available, and only a few cases necessitate an appeal.
So, if an attorney says “one price fits all,” you MUST make certain to read over the agreement to make sure you know if it covers all the following items, which regularly occur for DUI attorney cost in an aggressive DUI defense law practice, when all efforts to win are made:
So, three important lessons about LOW DUI fee quotes that sound too good to be true should be highlighted here. First, “costs of the case” are always the Client’s responsibility, because these vary greatly from case to case. Our best experts charge more than $1,500 for any court appearance. So how does that cheap DUI lawyer cover this? Use your common sense.
If a so-called DUI lawyer says that everything is covered in the one-price DUI fee, is THAT cost coming from the attorney’s pocket? If not, then that lawyer is simply NOT planning to fight in a meaningful way, by avoiding calling (or paying for) an expert witness or two. Pursuing pre-trial motions without a needed expert witness is like paying for a used car, and then having no fuel to drive it off the car lot.
Suppression motions often necessitate the use of experts. If the criminal attorney is omitting this cost and using no experts, then expect to lose almost every motion hearing in DUI cases. Does your DUI lawyer cost really matter, if losing is the likely outcome in your DUI case?
Second, if the unsuspecting, accused DUI GA driver is blindsided later by a request from their one-price lawyer for more money for an expert witness, he or she is usually unable to expand the budget for such costs. These undisclosed “surprise” requests to fund transcript preparation costs, hiring expert costs, or getting a bill for accident reconstruction specialist costs often cannot be paid, and this opportunity to win is lost.
Third, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is too good. No more than you should expect to only pay the cancer surgeon’s bill when dealing with stage 4 cancer, should you expect a one-price fee. The cancer patient will have radiology bills, possible MRI costs, operating rooms costs at a hospital, an anesthesiologist’s costs, private room costs, etc. In a DUI prosecution, your case will NOT be thoroughly investigated, prepared, researched, or proven when insufficient money is paid, under the usual criminal case facts. If no experts are used, there are simply some DUI cases where the chance of winning will be virtually ZERO.
Our Lawyers Are FIGHTERS!
If your cheap DUI attorney has ever been involved in an interim appeal, as shown above in either number 8 or number 9, there will be a reported appellate case that proves that he or she FIGHTS cases to win. Ask him or her to print off a copy of that appellate decision. If the one-price lawyer has never been the criminal defense lawyer in a single interlocutory appeal granted by a trial judge in a single DUI case, or had to write a brief and appear at the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to challenge a Prosecutor’s direct appeal as authorized under OCGA §5-7-1, then he or she is most likely a pleader, not a fighter.
Contrast what your average DUI lawyer has done, to the fact that our DUI law firm’s attorneys have handled nearly 200 such DUI appellate challenges of all types in Georgia courts, in our collective 65 years (for our three law partners). Enough said.
Don’t Expect to Compare DUI Fees for the Best DUI Attorney Like Pricing a Commodity
This field of criminal law practice has many targeted criminal justice attorney categories, like “white collar crimes,” “sex crimes,” “property crimes,” and “motor vehicle crimes.” Some attorneys usually focus their primary law practice “specialty” on a sub-specialty, and build a reputation for getting great results. Over time, other lawyers in the same community get positive feedback about theses specialists, and come to associate that lawyer’s name with his or her primary practice area. A DUI defense lawyer is one of those sub-specialty areas, and the people who are known and proven to excel in DUI defense charge substantially more for their time and expertise.
Not everyone can afford the best DUI lawyer, and so many people facing a DUI charge will start looking online for “good DUI lawyers” and to try to determine the average cost of a DUI lawyer. They treat this professional service hiring decision like buying a used car off AutoTrader.com, or comparing the price of a Samsung 55” 4K flat screen TV between the advertised prices at Fry’s, Walmart, and HH Gregg. A specific make, model, and size of TV is a “commodity,” which means that all are manufactured the same, at the same factory, and different retailers try to underprice their competition. Criminal defense lawyers are NOT a commodity, and the best attorneys cost more than the unproven or newly-minted lawyers in the State Bar.
Other citizens charged with driving under the influence will be relegated to looking for cheap DUI lawyers or even free lawyers. If they wait a few days, their mailbox will be FULL of boastful solicitation letters from dozens of bottom-feeder DUI attorneys, who have paid a commercial mail service to scrape jail records for those names of citizens arrested for DUI the night before, and will start soliciting the accused driver to hire them as their DUI defense attorney.
Yet for medical professional services, this is NOT how a concerned parent, spouse, or family member would seek out a cancer specialist for the most important person in his or her life. You want and should seek out the BEST cancer surgeon or oncologist. In the cancer business, the “best” is generally accepted as being the one with the best patient survival rate.
Looking at professional NFL players (not the “taxi squad" or practice team), these were the top twelve cash salaries of the best NFL players in 2015:
According to MoneyNation.com, the average NFL player salary on an active roster in 2015 was $2,150,000. The minimum paycheck for a new player, for the cheapest NFL player was $435,000 (by union contract), as reported at Spotrac.com. So, the salary of the cheap football player is about 1.23% of what the top NFL player makes, and the average NFL player made 6.1% of what the top NFL player made.
This is the classic economics of “supply and demand.” The intangible of “winning” drives up the price. Just like the NFL's top paid player, he can’t quarterback for EVERYBODY’S team. His professional time, effort, and expertise are given ONLY to those who are paying his annual salary. By analogy, the DUI lawyer who fights for ALL of his clients’ cases at every level, with 100% effort to win, gets the top paycheck, except that he or she does the work for multiple clients who pay for that segment of the top criminal attorney’s time and expertise.
When it comes to DUI lawyer cost, great differences exist in retainer fees and other legal fees in a Georgia DUI. This is due to the fact that the best DUI attorneys did not become famous for “sitting on the bench.” The fact that a criminal attorney with no legal business coming in each day may drop fees to a low-ball fee quote does not make the cheap DUI attorney a “bargain,” if you get no benefit from the representation. When it comes down to DUI attorney cost, you almost always get what you pay for.
Most of the clients of our Atlanta criminal defense lawyer firm are only interested in winning their case, and not being wrongfully convicted. These special clients are dedicated to trying every avenue to win, and are willing to pay for the best “quarterback” for their case.
Having the right to an attorney merely means that if you cannot afford a criminal defense attorney, that the Government will appoint one for you. Remember that all drunk driving defense lawyers are NOT equally trained, equally experienced, equally credentialed, equally rated, or equally motivated, much less equally capable of beating a DUI charge.
If your goal is to plead guilty to minimize your DUI penalties, and to take the lowest bidder from the large supply of cheap DUI lawyers, ANY of these cheap DUI attorneys are probably OK to hire. Just call a dozen or so, ask for a phone quote, make a chart of the cheapest DUI lawyers, and figure out the average cost of a DUI lawyer on your list. During your initial call, most will give you the impression that they “may be able to," “are likely to be able to,” or similar wording that sounds like a promise to do it, in terms of TRYING to get your DUI charge reduced.
Were You Improperly “Steered” or “Solicited” Into Hiring Your DUI Lawyer?
Some people will be solicited by Atlanta lawyers even before the solicitations by U.S. mail start. In major impaired driving arrest markets like Atlanta, GA, cheap criminal attorneys (or a bonding company employee or jail staff member acting on behalf of a specific drunk driving attorney) will steer people to a DUI attorney who is possibly paying for DUI arrest “leads” or other criminal arrest referrals. If you did not ASK for the referral, be highly suspicious of any connection. My good friend and ex-cop, Glynn Delatte of Baton Rouge (who is now a highly successful DWI attorney) says, “Good lawyers aren’t cheap, and cheap lawyers aren’t good.”
Even if You QUALIFY for a Free DUI Defense Lawyer, It Won’t Be a FREE Criminal Attorney
Free DUI attorneys don’t exist in any state in America. As usual, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is NOT true. As I explain further below, court-appointed DUI defense lawyers are NOT really “free,” since courts in Georgia require a person to pay an application fee (usually $50) simply to APPLY for an appointed lawyer for a driving under the influence case. This fee pays for a background check on you to make sure you are destitute, and that you have told the truth on your application. If you have lied about your financial status, you may be facing fraud or perjury charges as a result of giving false information to a Court. Then, unless you are acquitted of all charges, or your drunk driving case and other charges are totally dismissed, you have to REPAY the government for the cost of your driving under the influence attorney.
When an attorney for a drunk driving defense is appointed by the Court, WHO IS that DUI attorney? How much experience in fighting criminal defense cases at trial does he or she have? How much advanced training does he or she have on field sobriety tests? How about the issue of beating a DUI by getting a breath alcohol test excluded? Does he or she know all of the nuances of implied consent law?
Will he or she demand all discovery from the Prosecutor, and meticulously watch your drunk driving arrest video? Undoubtedly, some driving while intoxicated lawyers are great and other DUI attorneys are not worth the gunpowder it would take to blow them away. This maxim equally applies to “free” DUI defense lawyers, cheap DUI lawyers, and even to some driving while intoxicated attorneys that present themselves as being GOOD criminal defense attorneys, or “average” DUI defense attorneys. So, the right to an attorney only means that someone with an active Bar license will be assigned to your case, and this does not always mean it will be a good DUI lawyer.
Free Lawyers In Criminal Cases Are Called Public Defenders, or Are Taken From an Appointed General Practice Attorney List In Some Court Locations
After being arrested, you may be undecided about whether or not to hire a criminal defense attorney to fight the driving under the influence charge or charges. The common inquiry of, “Should I get a lawyer for a DUI?” gets answered by the Atlanta lawyers at our DUI law firm weekly with a resounding YES, in almost ALL circumstances.
Free driving while intoxicated lawyers are called public defenders or appointed legal counsel. This is often a general practice lawyer, and not a DUI specialist. The Government’s cost of DUI lawyer will be charged to you, at the end of your criminal case UNLESS you are totally acquitted. So, you will be paying for your DUI defense lawyer, one way or another.
This is because Georgia driving while intoxicated laws --- even a DUI first offense --- offer no “diversion,” no expungement --- EVER --- and no first offender treatment, such as is available for most drug possession offenses, theft cases, and some sex cases. While other states may offer these favorable options to help your criminal record, the Georgia DUI statute (OCGA 40-6-391) is a serious criminal law offense, with lifetime DUI consequences even for a first DUI offense.
These court-appointed lawyers can only charge an hourly rate, or sometimes a flat rate, or (in some places) are limited to a fixed dollar limit by the county or State. So, due to these budget-driven restrictions, your DUI attorney cost may be lower than the bottom-feeder driving while intoxicated attorneys who sent you the mail solicitations, or the DUI attorney who was the bondsman’s “preferred” drunk driving lawyer.
All Others Pay the Cost of Legal Counsel
Unless you are acquitted, then you have to pay back the state or county for the DUI attorney fees paid on your behalf. Therefore, a guilty plea to driving while intoxicated or anything else means you have to repay the government. So, just like with a good DUI lawyer or the best DUI attorney, the longer a drunk driving case goes on (i.e., you insist on pre-trial motions and a two-day trial), the more your bill for driving while intoxicated lawyer fees will be at the end of your DUI case. These legal costs of a DUI are made a “condition” of your sentence, and the fees “fronted to you” for your DUI attorney must be repaid during your probation period. If you don’t pay back the costs paid by the government on your behalf, you can go to jail for THAT, too! Welcome to America!
A conviction for “DUI Georgia” stays on your criminal history for LIFE, boosts car insurance rates, restricts countries where you can travel, and affects everything from your driving privileges to future jobs. Our DUI laws in Georgia have steadily increased the harsh consequences of a DUI to the point that NOT hiring a lawyer to fight a DUI less safe, DUI drugs, or DUI “over the legal limit” case is plain stupid.
Now that your many questions about saving money with a public defender or cheap DUI Lawyer are answered, let’s talk about looking for the best drunk driving attorney in your local court. Here are just a few of the practical reasons to NEVER go to court without having the best Atlanta criminal defense lawyer at your side:
Like Selecting a Surgeon, You Must Research Lawyer Ratings and Lawyer Reviews
You need to search for, investigate, and hire a Georgia DUI specialist who is the best driving while intoxicated lawyer for your Court location. Many DUI law firms seem to CLAIM to be a DUI specialist until you dig deeper into their LACK of advanced-level forensic science training on field sobriety test error rates, breath alcohol test device limitations, and laboratory blood test instrumentation and quantitation errors. DUI lawyer reviews are a factor, but some lawyers have added fake online reviews in an effort to make it seem that they are unbeatable.
Plus, you MUST check the EXPERIENCE level of your DUI lawyer at trial.
Find out the number of jury trials he or she won as a DUI defense lawyer (some defense lawyers were once prosecutors, and they want to “count” these wins, when they should not). Typically, when other DUI lawyers are asked to review top DUI attorneys in Georgia, they factor in the candidates’ number of trials when deciding the specific candidate’s lawyer ratings. Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and Martindale-Hubbell all rely on attorney ratings from other lawyers in the same practice area (DUI defense), and in other related practice areas (e.g., criminal justice attorney).
Your level of selectivity, by CREDENTIALS, can narrow your search greatly, as can be learned below. Start with this question: Is the candidate Board-Certified by the ABA through the National College for DUI Defense? Next, look at the DUI attorney's awards and accolades from independent lawyer rating services (Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell). Look for the highest “av” AND preeminent DUI lawyer ratings. Some attorneys merely pay for a fancy certificate or meaningless plaque. Don’t be fooled by this!
Just like in a professional sports draft, hiring a top model for an advertising campaign, or going to a 5-star hotel, people KNOW they will be paying more for top-level talent. In the NBA, NFL, or MLB, the first-round players in all professional sports command more money than the 12th-round picks. In business and in professions such as the legal profession, the best lawyers are in higher demand. Plus, a lawyer who is FIGHTING EVERY CASE for his or her clients must invest far more time in each file than an attorney who is charging low, one-price-fits-all fees and pushing out 300 DUI case annually, to be able to offer these low-ball legal fees.
Several different municipal court prosecutors have confided in me that most DUI attorneys who come to their courts to try to negotiate a pending Georgia DUI do not ask for “discovery.” They have told me that over 90% of the drunk driving lawyers never even ask for the arrest DVD or police report. Why not? Because these lawyers are not going to look for ways to win the case, and because the attorney fees they charge each client are so meager that they must wrap up each case in less than 8 hours of total time in that case. They try to not have to go to court more than twice per case to be able to make a profit.
Do the MATH. If you are charging all clients $2,750 in every case, flat fee, no matter how long each case takes, and the number of work days each year is 251 after deducting for weekends and holidays, and the lawyer is processing 300 cases, how much time is he or she putting into EACH client’s case? That works out to 6.69 hours, using an 8-hour workday.
So, the lawyer grosses $825,000 for 300 cases. Not bad, as far as the DUI lawyer is concerned. But what about their clients? Would you choose a surgeon whose fee for heart surgery is $2,500, a mere fraction of what the top surgeons charge for the same procedure? OF COURSE NOT!
In our office, each file for a Georgia arrest for driving under the influence takes our Atlanta lawyers an average of more than 20 hours to complete, and we only have to go to a jury trial on fewer than 10% of our cases. Some cases take us 60 to 80 hours to complete, when contested pre-trial motions, a contested administrative license suspension hearing, plus a two-day or three-day jury trial takes place.
Because we are hired by our DUI clients to fight every case, we KNOW it will not be easy to win. We DO NOT set one “magic” fee for every case, because that is a sure plan for trying to get OUT OF WORK. Our DUI lawyer fees are set in increments, as flat fees, for the anticipated time each phase of the case will require. The three partners at our Atlanta DUI law firm can accurately predict this, with over 15,000 prior cases for the lawyers in our DUI law firm.
Hiring a Bad DUI Lawyer Can Be Worse Than Not Having a DUI Attorney at All
Hiring the WRONG DUI lawyer is sometimes worse than representing yourself, because you may be given BAD advice and, therefore, you will make bad decisions about your case. Plus, if you plead guilty with a bad criminal lawyer by your side, any type of flaw in representation or ineffective assistance of counsel claim may be lost, if a change of heart later occurs. Looking back at the one-price-fits-all DUI lawyer example, how would you feel to later learn that you HAD a winning defense that the criminal defense lawyer never discovered, because the arrest DVD and police report were never reviewed?
If someone tries to suggest the name of a friend or relative who is a lawyer, start asking hard questions about his or her record for success in defending DUI cases, and get some specific details of awards, years of experience, and the quality of the recommended criminal attorney’s DUI law firm. Just because their "cousin’s husband" needs a new case is not a reason to hire a non-specialist in Georgia DUI law.
While retaining legal counsel in Atlanta may seem like an expensive option, the truth is that a drunk driving conviction can end up costing you far more money down the road - especially if you are later denied valuable employment opportunities due to being on probation or due to your permanent criminal record for a Georgia DUI. For this reason, it is at least worthwhile to speak with a skilled, highly-credentialed lawyer before making any major decisions in your misdemeanor DUI case that will impact your life, and the lives of family members that depend on you. How much does a DUI lawyer cost? The wrong DUI lawyer can cost you a lot.
How much are DUI lawyer fees? Can this money be paid over time, such as with monthly payments? What can a DUI lawyer do for you? In addition to lawyer fees for DUI, what other DUI lawyer cost items can I expect to pay in pursuing my DUI defense?
Legal fees to hire a criminal defense lawyer Atlanta to represent you after your DUI arrest vary from lawyer to lawyer. As with all economic equations, "supply and demand" for the best lawyers in Atlanta or other Georgia locations affects the cost of the services of these DUI law firm leaders. While legal fees may seem like a great expense at first, compared to putting a DUI Georgia on your record, legal fees are actually a minor expense. The cost of DUI defense, when considered against the possible loss of millions of dollars in future wages due to curtailment of your employment options after a conviction, is a mere pittance.
If you DON'T have much to lose by getting convicted of a Georgia DUI, then you might want to hire the one-price-fits-all lawyer. Or, just save your $2,750 and plead guilty by yourself.
To start, there is no such thing as an “average DUI lawyer’s fee.” Who asks that question?
If you had cancer, would you be asking about the AVERAGE cancer doctor fee? In no other field of criminal law practice does the old adage, “you get what you pay for” apply more than to the field of lawyer fees for DUI cases. Might you get lucky and hire a cheap DUI lawyer, and get your case reduced or dismissed? Maybe. But statistically, the best lawyers in Atlanta know -- and can prove --- that their overall success rates surpass the cheap DUI lawyers who simply cannot afford (by charging low-ball fees) to spend the extensive time and the intense focus on winning each DUI case on their shelves.
Some Georgia DUI lawyers charge low fees for a DUI in Georgia because their business depends on high volume and many guilty pleas. If a plea to guilty is all that is being done in most of these low-fee lawyers’ cases, the lawyer will have about 6 or 7 hours of total time in each case. Many of these low-ball DUI lawyers have little or no support staff, because they don't have to prepare cases for pre-trial motions, trials, or for contested ALS hearings. The lawyer operates with an answering service, or one staff person, so he or she can take home more money. By charging a one-size-fits-all price of $2,000 to $3,000 per client, the lawyer is making $400 to $800 per hour for doing something you can do just as well yourself – plead guilty to DUI Georgia.
Since our firm spends far more hours on each client’s case, and has a full staff and office backing up our efforts to win, we MUST charge more for the battle that we know is ahead. How can a lawyer offering a “universal” fee pay his or her costs of running a law practice and still make any money at these bargain rates?
The answer is simple: These cheap DUI lawyers routinely spend less time investigating the case for ways to win, and will gradually urge or encourage their clients to enter a guilty plea to DUI in exchange for some reduced penalties, rather than fully investigating the drunk driving case and putting in careful preparation for each client's defense. You may have one or more successful DUI defenses that can be asserted, after a thorough and determined Atlanta DUI lawyer exhaustive investigation and video review done by the three partners at our law firm.
Georgia DUI Laws ALERT: DUI Expungement Does NOT Exist in the Peach State
Unfortunately, if you DO plead guilty to DUI, and put a drunk driving conviction on your record, it is going to be there for LIFE. You also suffer loss of your Georgia driver's license, and (depending on whether it is a first DUI, second DUI, or similar issues) whether you can get any limited driver’s license in Georgia. Plus, are the low one-price fees applicable to a DUI with a child in the car? Is a DUI a felony, and still the same low price? Unless you just fell off the turnip truck, you can see that this model of “high volume-low time commitment” is a PLEA model, not a FIGHT model.
Do the Best DUI Lawyers in Atlanta Charge the Same As an Average Attorney?
When searching for an Atlanta criminal defense attorney in a driving under the influence case, you can search all the lawyers in Atlanta and not find another one with the experience and credentials of Bubba Head. Regardless of their practice area, other Atlanta lawyers who have been in practice 10 years of longer all know the name and the reputation of Bubba Head.
While the partners at Bubba Head's Atlanta DUI law firm don’t try to be the cheapest attorneys in town, the fees at William C. Head, PC are in line with the proven reputations and outstanding case results of our lawyers. Our DUI defense lawyers cannot handle EVERYONE’S case, so the members of our law firm focus on those clients who want to win their DUI in Georgia, or take the necessary steps to get their DUI reduced to reckless driving.
Don’t Expect a “Do Over” Or to Get a Georgia DUI Conviction Set Aside
A year or so after a guilty plea or nolo plea, you can't have "second thoughts" and think that the case is going to “age off” or become unimportant to your future. No expungement or record restriction for a DUI conviction exists under Georgia DUI laws, and no diversion or first offender treatment is available. What you may have heard about what OTHER states do simply does not apply under Georgia DUI laws. Read over Mr. Head's list of 97 Consequences of a DUI Conviction (pdf).
Yes, Atlanta DUI lawyer Bubba Head will gladly do this. Our Atlanta DUI lawyers will provide a professional case review, tell you the cost of a DUI lawyer, and answer the common question asked of us, “Do you need a lawyer for a DUI?”. If the lawyer fees for DUI are outside your ability to pay, we will guide you on who to see to get a DUI lawyer appointed. In reality, the overwhelming majority of defendants facing a Georgia DUI either get a public defender, or handle their cases without legal help.
These defendants simply plead guilty to driving under the influence to save money, and are convicted at their arraignment or shortly thereafter. Then, they lose their Georgia driver’s license, go on probation, and must live with a DUI on their criminal history forever. Mr. Head knows this, so his office is able to offer Clients who wish to FIGHT their case a payment plan for legal services, if you decide to hire an Atlanta criminal defense attorney that CARES about winning.
Mr. Head's DUI law office charges flat fees for the various stages of your DUI defense, which means that you will know -- upfront -- exactly how much your legal representation by an Atlanta criminal defense attorney will cost you, based on the litigation services Mr. Head and the other criminal defense attorneys (a partner at his Atlanta law firm) will perform.
This flat fee policy means no hourly charges, and no unexpected legal fee bills down the road. You will know the cost of a DUI lawyer when you walk out of our office. In addition, we accept payment via credit card, PayPal, and through monthly payment plans which are available to allow payments in stages as your DUI prosecution progresses. In addition to going over some successful DUI defenses that we can identify at the initial interview, we will give you ideas and possible sources of legal fee financing for your criminal case.
Call Us Today For a Free Consultation at Our DUI Law Firm in Atlanta
Known as one of the best DUI lawyers in Atlanta, and one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the nation, Bubba Head and his DUI law firm have successfully represented over 15,000 clients, including a number of high-profile clients in alcohol-related impaired driving cases. These cases are particularly tough, because the general public holds celebrities to a higher standard than regular citizens.
Mr. Head has co-authored over A DOZEN books on the topic of drunk driving defense and criminal defense practice since 1991. When Mr. Head or his law partners take your driving while intoxicated case, our goal is to fight as hard as we can to reach a successful, non-DUI resolution. For a small percentage of our cases this means going to trial, but a substantial majority of our clients’ DUI cases get reduced to reckless driving or other non-DUI offense without trial. When a good DUI lawyer is not going to be good enough, call upon the DUI attorney whose reputation for winning spans four decades and thousands of contested DUI defense cases.
When going through the DUI attorney selection process and the legal fees for criminal defense, compare the credentials and ratings of each potential DUI lawyer. Your goal is to hire a DUI specialist, and one who looks over your case, your facts and other factors (like any prior drunk driving or drugged driving convictions) in going you a preliminary assessment of how your DUI case can be reduced or won at trial.
Like any other profession, whether baseball, medicine of law, experience is an irreplaceable factor in selecting the right DUI lawyer. Do not overlook the years of experience in DUI trials, and be sure to read all of the prospective lawyer’s DUI attorney reviews. We are very proud of the credentials of the three partners at our DUI law firm, and will gladly share with you our track records.
Learn Which Previously Successful DUI Defenses May Apply to Your DUI Arrest
Our DUI lawyer Atlanta law office offers a FREE professional case evaluation to prospective clients who are facing a prosecution for driving while impaired. During this consultation, Mr. Head or one of his partners can go over your legal fee options, relate our past experience with successful DUI defenses in cases like yours, and answer any questions you may have about your Georgia DUI case, Georgia DUI law, successful DUI defenses, and possible payment plans in order to explain how our DUI law firm is different.
Only by knowing how our criminal defense lawyers in Atlanta will challenge all the evidence in your criminal case can you see the difference between our criminal defense firm and others, who merely want your credit card.
Board-Certification in the legal industry relating to DUI defense is the echelon of recognition of specialization in the field. Criminal defense is a general practice area, while DUI defense is a sub-specialty for a criminal justice lawyer who specializes in defense of citizens accused of drunk driving. Atlanta DUI lawyer William C. “Bubba” Head is one of only 4 Georgia DUI lawyers to have Board-Certification from NCDD.com. He is one of only 2 DUI attorneys in Atlanta (or in Georgia) to be named as a Super lawyer EVERY year since the accolade started. His DUI law firm has three Atlanta criminal defense attorney partners who are all DUI specialist attorneys, and all 3 are recognized by Super Lawyers for excellence in DUI Defense.
For a free analysis of your criminal charges under Georgia DUI laws, please call the law office of William C. Head, PC at (404) 567-5515.