If you've been arrested for DUI, a lot of questions may be running through your mind. It's just a misdemeanor -- is it worth defending myself? Will a lawyer really get me a better result than just pleading guilty? Can I even afford a lawyer?
You should absolutely defend yourself from a DUI charge. The penalties in Pennsylvania are steep, and you shouldn't assume that "upgraded misdemeanor" means a conviction can't hurt you. Even if this is your first, uncomplicated offense, you could be facing a $300 fine and additional court-imposed costs. A second offense and the fine could go up to $2,500, plus you will have to install and maintain an ignition interlock device -- at your own cost -- on your vehicle. That doesn't even include jail time, license suspension and other difficulties.
It doesn't include the increase in your car insurance rate, either. Unfortunately, that's likely to cost you quite a lot over the next few years if you're convicted.
Will hiring an attorney get you a better result? Can you afford one?
It seems reasonable that an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of the court system could get you a better result than you would get on your own. But is it true?
The folks at QuoteWizard, an online insurance rate comparison site, decided to find out. They found that, on average, people who hire lawyers do get better results. In fact, hiring a lawyer often pays for itself by limiting the increase in your car insurance rate.
- A DUI conviction will probably cost you an additional $4,000+ in car insurance premiums over 5 years. That's $830 a year in higher premiums over someone with a clean driving record.
- The insurance increase from a DUI conviction is much higher than for a negligent or reckless driving conviction. The average was $1,460 more for the DUI.
- People who hire attorneys are three times more likely to have their DUI charge reduced to a lesser charge (like negligent or reckless driving) than those who go it alone.
No attorney can guarantee results, but it's important to know that hiring one typically does get you a better outcome. Can you afford not to hire an attorney?