Few experiences are as traumatic and humiliating as being charged by a police officer with drunk driving. Drivers who get pulled over and breathalyzed by police officers or troopers often have no prior criminal history. They usually have many questions including how a DUI conviction will affect their futures and how much does it cost to hire a DUI defense lawyer in Baltimore. Drunk driving defendants frequently ask whether they can afford to hire a DUI defense lawyer. The other question you should ask yourself is whether you can afford not to.
When you are considering which criminal defense attorney to hire, you should look at a range of factors rather than shopping around for the cheapest lawyer. Although some drivers rush to plead guilty to get the ordeal over with this is usually a mistake. A positive breath or blood test can be challenged. A field sobriety test is often flawed. The equipment used by police may have malfunctioned and police officers sometimes fail to follow proper procedures. You won’t usually know if an officer has made a mistake. An experienced Baltimore DUI defense attorney will.
Factors that Impact the Cost of a DUI Defense Lawyer in Baltimore
Ultimately, the cost of hiring a DUI defense lawyer in Baltimore will depend on a range of factors. Retaining a criminal defense lawyer is not like taking on a personal injury lawyer. When you are fighting an injury case, the attorney will take you on a contingency basis. You will not have to pay your legal representative until the end of the case if you are awarded a settlement or a jury verdict. Obviously, drunk drivers do not win money in their cases, so they have to pay the lawyer from the time of hiring.
The Complexity of the DUI Case
The complexity of your case can affect the cost. Typically, the legal process costs more if the DUI arrest involves a minor under 21 or a wreck with injuries or death.
A Baltimore drunk driving lawyer must put more work into a complicated case with injuries that involves multiple parties. If the facts are disputed and the case goes to a trial, it will cost more than a simple guilty plea. This is not a reason to admit to drunk driving. A DUI on your record can cost you far more in the long-term. You are likely to lose out on jobs and educational opportunities. The loss of a license can wreck family relationships and leave you isolated.
In Maryland, if a defendant is facing a penalty of more than 90 days incarceration, then that individual has a right to a jury trial. Typically, in DUI arrests, the police officer will charge the driver with DUI and DWI. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” while DWI stands for “driving while impaired.”
DUI vs. DWI
Many drivers in Maryland believe DUIs and DWIs are the same but they are different. A DWI charge is brought in Maryland when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be between 0.07 and 0.08 percent. Drivers charged with DWI often pass the breath test, meaning they are below the legal drug driving limit. However, they show signs of intoxication such a driving erratically or failing field sobriety tests.
Lawmakers in Maryland saw his level of impairment as dangerous which is why people found guilty of a DWI in Maryland face criminal sanctions as well as the suspension of their driver’s license.
DUI involves operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. This more serious offense carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison for a first offense and two years for a second, whereas a DWI carries the maximum penalty of 60 days. Because the DUI could potentially result in a penalty of greater than 90 days, then the defendant has a right to a jury trial.
Time Needed for the Case
The work, preparation and amount of time spent in court if the lawyer takes the case before a jury means legal costs will increase. However, a case that results in a plea will usually cost less.
The Seriousness of the DUI Charges
The seriousness of the charges is a pertinent factor in the eventual price. If you killed or injured someone when driving drunk, you will likely be facing additional changes to DUI. These will increase the complexity of the case and have an impact on costs.
What is the Price Range of a DUI Defense Lawyer in Baltimore?
The legal fee to hire a DUI lawyer in Maryland, for a first-time drunk driving offense, can range from $1,500 to $3,000. This does not usually include the cost to appear for a motor vehicle administration hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). It often makes sense for a lawyer to appear at an MVA hearing to argue why you should retain your license.
The attorney will outline the price range to hire a DUI defense lawyer in Baltimore from the outset and go over the options in detail.
Do Baltimore DUI + DWI Lawyers Offer a Payment Plan?
Many Baltimore DUI defense attorneys offer payment plans. Our office will typically charge a flat fee for the drunk driving defense. We normally offer payment plans to allow the client to make an initial half down payment before the trial date and then the balance due within three months after the first payment is made.
Factors to Consider When Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer in Baltimore
Although a lot of Maryland criminal defense lawyers take on DUI cases, they don’t all have a long track record in defending them. Some lawyers cover a wide range of areas but really know very little about drunk driving cases. Ask the following questions:
- How much experience does the attorney have in representing drunk drivers?
- Has the lawyer represented many clients in Baltimore?
- Is he or she familiar with the city’s courts?
- How many DUI acquittals has the lawyer secured?
- How straightforward is your case?
- How far must the lawyer travel to represent you in court?
- Does the lawyer have a long track record in criminal cases?
- Are you comfortable with the lawyer?
- Do you have previous convictions? Habitual offenders often pay more to hire counsel.
Fighting a DUI charge in Maryland can be very stressful. It’s important to hire an attorney you feel you can work with. You can get an idea of whether your counsel is sympathetic and the sort of person you feel comfortable dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Try to gauge the size of the attorney’s caseload. If he or she is constantly juggling cases, yours might fall through the cracks or may not be given the time it deserves.
Your attorney should carefully describe the DUI process and your options. You should not make the decision about an attorney lightly. The lawyer will be your spokesperson in court. However, time is of the essence in drunk driving cases in Baltimore. It’s important to set up appointments with lawyers as soon as possible.
Reasons to Hire a Baltimore DUI Defense Lawyer
Some defendants believe they can fight their DUI or DWI case alone. This is a risky strategy. Although they may be concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer, they should be aware the costs of fines, probation costs, and alcohol treatment associated with a drunk driving conviction in Baltimore can often run up to $10,000.
Some reasons to hire a lawyer after a DUI or DWI charge in Baltimore include the following:
- You have an authorized legal representative to determine the strength of the evidence against you post-arrest.
- The lawyer can guide you through the legal process and tell you what to expect;
- Your lawyer can put the process in perspective;
- Your lawyer will receive all notices and information from the court. He or she will interpret the charges against you, tell you what they mean, and advise you of how to respond to them.
- The lawyer will develop a legal strategy and prepare you for court appearances;
- The attorney can identify weaknesses in the prosecution case and question police over irregularities;
- Your lawyer will review programs and actions that can improve your prospects before a court appearance;
- The attorney is familiar with the courts and prosecutors. He os she can work with the other side on a potential plea deal;
- Your lawyer can explain Maryland’s ignition interlock program;
- Counsel will advise you on the deadlines for making an application to an administrative hearing to argue against the suspension of your driver’s license. He or she can represent you at the hearing.
- On the date of the trial, your attorney will deal with the assistant state’s attorney handling your case. Your lawyer will find out if there will be offers or plea deals that will benefit you. He or she will evaluate relevant evidence and communicate back to you, as well as explain the next step.
- Your lawyer will explain all the proper rules of procedure in court and evidence necessary to help you during the hearing
- Your lawyer will interpret and explain any rulings made by the court and inform you what you need to do to comply with them.
Talk to an Experienced Baltimore DUI Attorney
Drunk driving cases are stressful for defendants and their families. On occasions, drivers are charged with DUI or DWI when they were not driving drunk, a Breathalyzer was faulty, or a police officer incorrectly stopped the defendant. It’s important to clear your name if possible. A drunk driving conviction can turn your life upside down and harm your future prospects. Please call Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice as soon as possible at (410) 657-5658.