I got my first DUI recently and am having a very hard time deciding if I need a lawyer or not. I am in NO financial situation to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars for them to just get some fines reduced while I still end up getting the penalties (suspended license for a year, insurance company dropping me). I don't know what a typical outcome to be WITH a lawyer versus withOUT a lawyer.
I have spoken to a few lawyers and I almost feel like they're trying to scare me into taking their services. I just need some legal advice from a lawyer on what to expect without them trying to get thousands of dollars from me.
Your position on hiring a lawyer is understandable. What is unfortunate is that this opinion is much more prevalent among people charged with their first lifetime DUI. The impression that many first-time DUI defendants seems to have is that it is unreasonable to pay several thousand dollars for an attorney when the maximum fine in Georgia for a fist DUI is $1,000.00. However, that $1,000.00 fine is only the beginning of the costs that a DUI conviction can cause.
Most people are surprised to learn that on top of DUI fines come DUI surcharges that typically amount to several hundred dollars. A DUI conviction in Georgia also comes with 12 months of probated jail time, and probation costs are usually around $450 just for supervision. Your life insurance premiums are likely to increase, assuming that your life insurance carrier does not cancel your policy altogether. Your insurance premiums will almost certainly increase substantially. Many employers also terminate theri employees who are convicted of DUI, and those employees usually discover that their DUI conviction cause serious problems in their search for a new job. There are many, many other major expenses and difficulties that result from avoiding the expense of contesting your DUI charge. One law firm that has thoroughly explored the economic impact of a single DUI conviction (Head, Thomas, Webb & Willis) estimates that a single conviction can cost a person up to $20,000.00 when all of the effects of a DUI conviction are considered.
A large number of my clients are people who chose not to hire an attorney on their first DUI charge and simply pled guilty to their DUI charge. Because they have learned how much a DUI conviction actually costs, they are happy to hire me on their subsequent cases.
I would encourage you to talk to a DUI defense attorney about your case. There are several excellent DUI lawyers in the Savannah area. I know the fee may appear intimidating at first (DUI defense is often regarded as the most complex area of criminal law), if a competent DUI lawyer can help you avoid a DUI conviction, it will almost certainly save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.
I agree with the comments that have already been made here. In addition, I would point out that most attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation. In my office we will always sit down with a potential client and review the police report, the citations and interview the potential client to discover any mistakes that were mafde by the police. Often, the police make procedural mistakes that may result in evidence being suppressed or may result in the case being dismissed completely. It is important that a person is fully informed of all the options available to them.
However, all that being said--if you feel that an attorney is trying to scare you into retaining them--i would turn and walk out the door. Your instincts are absolutely correct about this. Our job is to investigate the case, inform our clients and litigate the case if necessary. Our job is not to intimidate someone who has felt the power of the State of Georgia come down on them.
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