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Are attorneys able and willing to give me an estimate of success rate for DUI case after looking at police report?

Carlsbad, CA |

I recently got charged for DUI. Both attorneys that I have met found an issue in my case, but refused to give me an estimate of success rate since they have yet to look at the police log. They said we can talk again when I get the reports. From my perspective, the fee for hiring an attorney is just as much as the fine for my DUI (first time). They said they could go for a motion to suppress evidence, which would possibly have the case dismissed, but could not provide me with any estimates. I really hope that once the police reports are out, they'll be able to give me an estimates and be honest on how confident they are with my case, so that I can make a right decision on whether to hire an attorney, which protects my best interest. I don't want to double the money and still lose the case.

Attorney Answers 14

  1. It's impossible for any attorney to give you a percentage of likely success. Too many factors. Some judges are know to deny suppression motions unless the issues are extremely obvious. If there is any grey area, they may usually deny. In my experience, and this is something I make clear to everyone I speak with, the police report is only part of the story. Basing your decision of whether to hire someone based on that alone is not smart.

    An attorney will be able to point out more issues after looking at it, but none who are worth their fee will give you a "likelihood of success" based on that alone. If video exists, it needs to be looked at. If audio exists, it needs to be heard. How do you know any breach machine results listed on the report are yours? I just had an officer respond to a subpoena for calibration logs of a breath device by stating that the device listed was actually NOT in service on the day in question. That's not stuff that is included in the report. That is all stuff your attorney should be actively searching for. If they are going to tell you whether your case is "winnable" based solely on the report. Look for someone else.

    In addition, it also depends on what you mean by "success". Getting a DUI reduced to a wet may be success in some cases, but in other situations, perhaps it's not a good result. It all comes down to investigation. Don't choose based on who promises what you want hear. Decide based on who is going to work hard to represent your best interest.

    As far as fees go, the fee may be the same as the fine. But that's not where a DUI ends. You also have program fees, potentially SR22 fees, increased insurance rates, etc. Overall, a DUI can cost upwards of $10k, not including attorney fees. So, consider attorneys fees an investment. Choose wisely. And make sure you are getting value for your hard earned money.

    Any information provided through in response to a question is not, and cannot be considered a formation of any Attorney-Client relationship. Questioner understands that the nature of this system allows only for a cursory review of case information, and more detailed information should not be divulged in this public forum. As such, Questioner is recommended to contact an Attorney in order to discuss the full details of their case and a more specific advisement of potential rights and liabilities.

  2. Matt's answer is right on.

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced 39+ yrs. I can be reached at 213-819-1171. I practicein Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. I give only appointments over the phone., these services do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend as I do not believe in pulling punches or sugar coating the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ and I would appreciate it if you feel like marking my answers helpful or best. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are court documents , less expensive.

  3. There are so many factors that go in to whether or not a case can be beaten. Additionally, there is frequently much more evidence that needs to be subpoenaed or otherwise obtained that is not included in the original police reports. Without an attorney, your chances of winning are zero, and you are subjecting yourself to whatever punishment the prosecutor wants to offer you. Hiring an attorney gives you the best chance at beating the case and/or mitigating the charges and punishment you are facing. Best of luck.

    Jasen Nielsen

  4. The attorneys above are correct. You should get the police report in discovery from the DMV as well. Hiring an attorney is a good idea..

    877-603-8473 - Peter S. Cameron, Esq. 2445 Fifth Ave. #350, San Diego, CA 92101 - Call 24/7 for a FREE CONSULTATION!

  5. Assigning a numerical percentage to the estimates of being successful on any given DUI matter is, in my opinion, a disservice to clients. There are so many different factors that go into any given DUI case. Each case will present its own unique set of challenges and opportunities - opportunities a skilled DUI defense attorney will hopefully expose and take advantage of. Your best bet is to speak to qualified attorneys (most offer free consults) and retain the one you feel most comfortable with. Read their reviews, check out their background and experience, and once you've met/spoken with them, make an informed decision. A good place to search for attorneys is right where you're at, Avvo. Good luck.

    The answer above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship. The above response should not be relied upon for any specific situation. If you need legal advice specific to your needs, you should consult with a licensed attorney.

  6. A short way to tell you what I think you really should know:

    I don't know what your outcome will be if you hire an attorney, but I do know what will happen if you don't.

    You are in the wrong arena if you want a guarantee. Whether you hire an attorney or not is a personal decision, and hiring an attorney is no guarantee that you will "win the case" however you define it. Not having an attorney, however, is the surest way to a speedy conviction.

    Criminal court is a highly challenging arena, and without an attorney you will be facing trained prosecutors and law enforcement alone, and then you will almost certainly be convicted if charges are filed against you.

    You have to weigh the long-term consequences of a DUI against the costs of fighting it -- without a guaranteed outcome. A first-time DUI means you potentially face a hefty fine, jail time or equivalent, years of probation and a suspension of your driver's license, DUI class, and possibly an ignition interlock device, depending where your arrest happened.

    An attorney can act as your lighthouse, your advocate, your reality-check, and steer you away from potential pitfalls and in best-case scenarios, pick apart your case and help you to beat it. Look for an attorney you will be comfortable with, as fighting the State forces arrayed against you can take months.

    Likelihood of success will be determined by the specific facts of your case, geographic location, your willingness to commit to the fight (experts aren't cheap either) and jury pool (which you won't find in any police report, ever) and the skill of your counsel. Consult with attorneys who have joined the California DUI Lawyers Association, which by sheer grit, shared successes and outcome-focused collaboration have achieved many amazing outcomes in cases much like yours.

    Good luck.

  7. No attorney should, even if they could, guarantee anything as it relates to their "estimate of success rate." 2k is relatively cheap for a quality, locally experienced, criminal defense attorney.

    Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555

  8. Anyone who suggested to you, to wait until you have the police reports before hiring an attorney, obviously does not know how to handle a DUI case. The police reports are just one small part of defending a person charged with a DUI here in San Diego. As some of the other's have suggested, there is much more evidence that an experienced attorney will know to get from the prosecutors that is so important to your defense. And, hiring an attorney is not just to get that professional to try and get your case dismissed - it's also to get the experience and knowledge that that professional has so that you can begin the process of preparing a strong and solid case defense. There are things that can't be done in a DUI case even shortly after the time of arrest which will assist your attorney in resolving your case in a much more successful manner-which doesn't always mean getting the case dismissed, but certainly getting the potential penalties that you face minimize - which to a lot of clients is a success. Bottom line - there's really no reason to wait. The longer you wait the more time you waste.

    I will be happy to speak with you at no cost by phone if you have a San Diego or California matter. Call 619-238-1905 or visit my website at

  9. Attorneys are ethically barred from guaranteeing a result. Your focus in seeking an attorney's assistance should not simply focus on the ultimate result, but to ensure you have an experienced and talented legal counselor and advocate handle your case. The attorney should be able to explain to you how the law applies to the facts of your case so you can make a fully informed decision on whether or not to accept a plea bargain or to take the case to trial. Also, your attorney should be a zealous advocate in court, promoting your interests before the judge and prosecutor. When you hire an attorney, you are paying for the attorney's time and effort involved in obtaining the best possible result. If you are not happy with the attorneys you've previously spoken with, you should continue to seek a North County defense attorney who will provide you the assistance you need.

    Law Office of Andrew Limberg, APLC 380 S. Melrose Dr., #329 Vista, CA 92081 (760) 806-4381

  10. Show me an attorney who guarantees you success or "estimates" success after reviewing a report and I will show you a lawyer who is more interested in a fee and than in actually defending you. Follow the advice that has been offered on this forum and good luck to you.

    The response I have provided is general in nature, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. My practice is based in Rhode Island, and the law and practice in other states or jurisdictions may be different.

  11. Let me answer this differently. Suppose you go to an doctor because the lab results indicate you may have cancer. Before the doctor examines you or sends you out for any other tests, you ask him, "Doctor, what are my chances." What do you do? Do you take the risk of dying of cancer because you don't want to spend the money on the treatment, or do you spend the money on the treatment knowing if may, or may not, work? That's your answer. No competent attorney will provide you with an estimate of success. It is unethical.

  12. Thank you for your question. You have a common, and valid, concern.

    The truth is, that the police report is a key aspect of the case. It normally constitutes 100% of the DMV documents to be used against you, and provides the prosecutors filing the court case against you an idea of what charges to file, and the strength or weakness of the case.

    Unfortunately, law is not like a math or chemistry problem, where you put specifics in one end and get the solution to an equation at the other. Part of what good attorneys do is to review, carefully, everything legally and factually that might constitute a wide variety of defenses. Analyzing how best to present or negotiate the issues in your case will also differ among attorneys. In many cases, even the police report might not have all your defenses, as a blood re-test, or the breath machine maintenance or calibration logs, or patrol car video, which is not part of the report, might have valuable evidence in your case.

    A good attorney will do everything they can in the case, and fight to minimize the impact on you from the case. Like with a surgeon, or an accountant fighting a tax audit, the bar doesn't allow us to promise or guarantee an outcome that is not 100% up to us (and matters requiring a judge, jury, or prosecutor are never entirely up to a lawyer), so you may not get the precise answer you are looking for. If you feel the attorney did all they can in the case, and are happy with the outcome, that is a good result.

    All the best to you with your case.

  13. You're asking for mathematical odds in a realm dominated by biology. My colleagues are correct - any attorney who quotes you an "estimate of success" is probably someone you don't want to hire.
    The police report is only one side of the story - the prosecutions! Not only does the prosecution bear the burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt, but you have the right to refute their case through your own efforts. To do that, you're going to need a good qualified attorney.

    Your looking for certainty in a process run by humans. What judge will you get? Is he/she knowledgeable about 4th Amendment law and/or DUIs? What prosecutor will be handling your case? Is he/she also able to spot and accept a 4th Amendment violation? Or, is he/she just going to try and force your case through the system? Is he/she out to get another trial statistic to make the office happy and move up the ladder? What about the officer who arrested you? Is he/she willing to acknowledge an error, or is going to be stonewall the whole way? What about the criminalist for the day your case comes up? etc., etc., etc.

    Yes, laying out the cash for a qualified attorney can seem painful in the present, but you need to consider the long-term costs of a DUI conviction (fines, restricted license status, DUI classes, increased auto insurance, etc.) If you do a present-value calculation you're likely to find hiring an attorney to be a very smart investment.

    You're not going to find certainty, or even an estimation of it, from an attorney who is honest with you. Odds are you're likely to "double the money and still lose the case" if you go with an attorney who provides you with an "estimate."

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