While estimates vary state by state, you can bet that a DUI could cost you $10,000 on average, including legal fees, court fees, and bail. If you’re a first time offender, you might get some leniency from the court. But this could depend on how much you spend on your attorney to defend you.
Getting arrested is a deeply uncomfortable feeling, even when you’ve made a mistake. Whether or not many people find out, you might feel deeply embarrassed.
If you made a mistake while living on a tight budget, you’ll be suffering an added stress that you might not have saved for. If you’re struggling to figure out how to budget your legal fees following a DUI, consider these 7 tips for saving money.
1. Choose a Lawyer Carefully
You’ll have plenty of different law firms to choose from when you do you start searching. Do some homework on any that seem like they might work for you. Search for reviews on legal review sites or even on Yelp.
Choosing the right lawyer could end up saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees. Interview each lawyer carefully before you start working with them. Build a relationship with them so that they can understand your situation and be upfront about your budget when you start.
Spending time getting to know them up front ensures that you won’t end up displeased and hiring a new lawyer halfway through your case.
Think about a law firm that advertises their DUI services. A firm like De Bruin law firm, DUI attorney in Greenville SC can give your case the attention that you need without blowing your budget.
2. Ask for a Flat Fee
Legal fee arrangements are negotiable, like anything else in life. There are some arrangements that are more common than others.
Some lawyers will hire a contingency fee, where they only charge you if they win your suit. This is more often reserved for high profile suits where the plaintiff is asking for a lot of money in damages.
Hourly fees and flat fees are just as common. If you’ve got a pretty straightforward case, your lawyer will know as soon as you present it. They will be able to estimate your legal fees in minutes.
While your situation feels special to you, it could be common enough to your attorney that they can work out a reasonable price. Your lawyer shouldn’t want you to end up bankrupt at the end of your case. They might want to work with you again in the future.
3. Think About Alternative Fees
If their flat rates or their hourly rates are too high, ask lawyers how low they would go. Interview two or three lawyers at a time and get a few different estimates. Surely there’s one that’s willing to undercut the others.
While an alternative billing model isn’t ideal, again, if you’ve got a straightforward case, a lawyer might see the value in giving you their services at a discount.
4. Do Some Prep in Advance
Once you hire a lawyer, the work isn’t over. If you’ve got a relatively complicated case, you could be racking up fees as your lawyer goes all over town looking for your information.
Are you sending your attorney to wait on hold with the insurance company? You’re getting charged for that by the minute.
If you have a lot of evidence to show the social good that you provide to the community or how you’ve got a clean driving record, gather it yourself. If you’re working on staying sober during this rough time, gather any documentation about your journey that you can.
Run your own background checks, gather your insurance information, and everything you can about the night you were arrested.
Ask what they need so you don’t duplicate their work, but if they know you’re trying to save money, they’ll tell you what they need from you.
5. Limit Your Outreach
Every time you send an email to a lawyer or make a call, you could be getting charged. Just like every time you check your work email, you have to shift focus, use your experience, and respond accordingly. That’s labor for your lawyer and you’ll be billed for it for sure.
If you’ve got a lot of questions, ask everything you need to ask at the start or during a regular check-in point. Set a scheduled meeting to get all of your questions and concerns together.
A bunch of unnecessary phone calls will not only annoy your lawyer but will end up costing you more than you can afford. Save yourself both the time and money by organizing your thoughts, doing a little research on your own, and taking notes when you speak to them.
6. Think of Alternatives to Lawyers
If you’ve got a friend who is in law school, you can ask them to help you build your case or even represent you just for the practice. If your partner is a lawyer, they could help you map out a plan if you intend to represent yourself.
Before you shell out thousands in legal fees, see what else you could do to get what you need.
7. Swap Services
If you’re a web designer or a photographer and you’ve noticed that your lawyer has a crummy website, you might be in luck. You could offer to do what you do best and trade services with your lawyer.
While it might be a long shot, it could help to build a productive partnership and even help to build new clients for both of you.
Think Creatively to Lower Legal Fees
It might take a little bit of ingenuity and some time searching for answers, but there are alternatives to spending tens of thousands following your DUI. While you may feel that you made a mistake, you don’t need to be punished with poverty for it. Ask friends to help you brainstorm ways to avoid high fees.
If you’re ready to lower the costs of your DUI case, contact us to make sure your legal fees are as low as they can be.