Investing in a private defense attorney is often much more affordable when you consider the overall cost that even a first time DUI conviction will cost you over the course of time.
DUI conviction costs
How much does a DUI cost, compared to a DUI lawyer's fee to help you fight the charge? I'm glad you asked. Almost every day as a private criminal defense attorney in Missoula MT, I quote prices to people looking to hire a defense attorney for a DUI charge. Private DUI defense prices can range from $2,500-$5,000 depending on many different factors. Often, people decide that they don't want to invest several thousand dollars into hiring an attorney to represent them after a DUI arrest. I am almost universally shocked when people don't consider the alternative cost of what a DUI conviction may cost them. Consider the cost of actually receiving a DUI conviction. In addition to fines, fees, surcharges, and alcohol program fees, a DUI conviction will also cost you in insurance rates (plus you have the emotional cost of having a DUI on your record). Looking at the long-term costs of a DUI conviction makes the price of private defense seem not only like a deal, but an investment worth making. You probably don't realize that your insurance company may drop you completely after a DUI conviction. This means that you'll have to get brand new insurance at a much greater rate. Following a DUI conviction, insurance companies consider you to be a high risk, and your rate reflects that. A higher rate, month after month, and year after year really adds up. In addition, a DUI conviction may restrict you from traveling internationally as some countries will not allow a U.S. citizen with a misdemeanor DUI conviction to enter their border, such as Canada. See my graphic below for the DUI cost for a first-offense conviction in Montana:
Attorney costs versus conviction costs
Just walking out of the court, a first-offense DUI conviction will likely cost you over $2,000 in various charges resulting from a conviction. Add to this figure what your insurance is going to cost you, and the figure comes even more into perspective. Most preferred insurance companies will completely drop you after a DUI conviction. This means that you'd have to go to a less-than-ideal insurance company for any insurance at all. Companies such as Progressive and Geico will insure people convicted of a DUI. However, after a DUI conviction, your insurance rates typically will increase 26% to 55% of what you were paying before. Adding the $2,000 cost of the court system with a 50% increase in your insurance premium every year for a DUI conviction can quickly add up to thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars over the span of just a few years. When you consider the cost of a private attorney who can potentially obtain an outcome other than a DUI conviction for you, that kind of money is far less than the cost of a DUI. For example, if you pay around $1,500 per year of car insurance; after a DUI conviction, you would pay out around $5,000.00 for the first year following a DUI conviction. Each and every year, that conviction would cost you an extra $1,500 per year more than you had been paying. Over just 5 years, the DUI conviction would cost you: $9,500 or more.
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