Attorney Fees & Importance of Retaining an Attorney
Interviewer: Can an attorney help me reduce the costs of these fees or reduce the amount of money I’d have to pay?
Matthew Nebeker: Oh, yes, Orlando. What we’re talking about here is, is it worth hiring a DUI attorney to help them with their case? Going back to these studies that have been done, we’ve looked at the total cost for a DUI. We’re talking about all of the things: the decreased earning ability, the expungement, all the other fees that go along with that. The number that they came up with for what it’s going to cost the person is between $112,000 to $115,000 for a DUI conviction over a 10-year period.
Now, if you take out that $100,000 for the decreased earning ability, a lot of states say between $10,000 and $20,000. Still, it’s a lot of money. I don’t want to quote any fees here because each case is different and each case requires a different amount of work, but most of the time, the fee that you’ll pay the attorney, with his ability to handle the DUI and the things that get accomplished on the case, will cost less than without him.
The fee that the client pays us will definitely be a greater savings in the long run than not having the attorney. In most cases, I can cut more than enough stuff out of the case, if not make it all go away, to cover the fee that I charge to handle the case.
It’s cheaper in the long run to hire a DUI attorney than it is to go alone.
Interviewer: Do you get what you pay for with an attorney?
Matthew Nebeker: That’s a tough question to answer. Sometimes, like with any other thing, you just never know.
Honestly, to do a good job on a DUI, to take the time and go through the case and request the information that’s needed, at the bare minimum, I would say the attorney would need to charge $2,500, at the bare minimum, to do a halfway decent job and that doesn’t, of course, include the trial fee.
I had this call earlier today; a guy called me. He had paid this attorney $700 and the attorney got him into court. It was a pre-trial conference. They pushed him into this plea deal and because he was scared, he entered the plea deal and then they set the sentencing date for another date. He didn’t feel right about it. He felt pressured. He felt that the attorney didn’t talk to his witnesses or investigate the things that he wanted him to investigate so he was calling around, looking for another attorney, and basically what he was told by the attorney that he did hire is, “This is all you’re getting. You’re going to basically take this plea deal and that’s it.”
Afterwards, he just didn’t feel right about it. Now he’s looking for an attorney to go and try and undo what the other attorney did, which can be tough, and then proceed on and go forward and investigate the claims he wanted and things like that. In my experience, if there is a real error that just jumps right out from the first time reading the DUI report, like the officer made such a blatant mistake, those cases are easy to get dismissed, but you don’t see too many of those.
Where you make the difference for the client, where you cut down on these potential expenses for him, is by digging into the case, taking the time, pulling the records of the officer, pulling the records of the breath test machine, getting the information from the lab, and that takes time and money to do that, but when that’s done, that’s where you really make the difference and that’s where the good outcomes are achieved in DUI cases.
A DUI Conviction Can Have a Devastating Effect
Interviewer: Have you ever seen cases where there’s a domino effect? I mean a situation where, because a DUI happens, someone’s life changes dramatically and they’re having to pay more money and they’re just in the worst situation that they’re ever in in their entire life. Have you ever seen that happen to someone?
Matthew Nebeker: Oh yeah. If people aren’t careful, what happens is they think this DUI is a life-ending event and they get depressed and they quit going to work. Some of them will lose their job. Some of them will start drinking more and get another DUI and it can steamroll pretty quickly if the person doesn’t believe that they’re going to have a good outcome on their case and a belief that someone’s really going to help them.
Another thing that we see is, if their license is suspended, they’ll have to drive anyway and then as a result of that driving on a suspended license conviction, their license gets suspended for another year, and then another year. I’ve seen guys whose licenses are suspended for six or seven years because they keep driving on a suspended license after their DUI. To go that long without a license, it’s almost impossible for most people where there’s not a good reliable public transportation system.
Yeah, if people don’t think that there’s hope that someone’s going to fight for them and advocate for them, then the DUI can really be a life-changing event for them, but what a lot of people don’t realize is having a DUI attorney does make a difference. You need someone who does it day in and day out and knows how to help them in the best possible way.
Interviewer: It’s pretty common from what I understand. Is that correct?
Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, it is, and that’s one of the fundamental reasons that a lot of DUI attorneys get involved in this line of work; we feel like we’re saving families.
Interviewer: The human factor.
Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, the human factor. If we can avoid this DUI conviction and lessen the impact on someone’s life, then we are ultimately saving a family, keeping a family together, preventing a divorce, things like that.