“How Much Will You Cost Me?” vs. “How Much Will This Cost Me?”
You have been pulled over on the side of the road by the flashing lights of a police car. You see the police officer walking up to your door, one hand on the butt of his gun. He stands a little behind your left shoulder, bends down, and asks: “Do you know why I pulled you over?” You admit to breaking the law by committing a traffic infraction. As you begin to babble, the officer asks for your your license, registration, and insurance card. You get your wallet out and, because you're nervous, you fumble to find your drivers license. Then you shuffle through all the stuff in your glove box to find your insurance card and registration. You give it to the officer, confident that you are now in control. The police officer runs your information and you come back “clean”…no wants or warrants. You again see him coming back to the car with your documents in the driver's side mirror. Then he says: “Would you mind stepping out of the vehicle?” When you ask “why,” he replies: I smell the odor of alcohol and your eyes appear to be glassy and blood shot. This is the moment your life has changed. You are eventually charged with DUI.
One of the first questions every potential client who has been charged with a first-time driving under the influence (DUI) asks me is: “How much will you cost me?” Am I surprised this is one of the first questions – no. Are there more important questions to ask – probably. For example, after years of representing people accused of DUI in Idaho, a better question might be: “How much will this cost me?” At first-blush, there may not seem to be a difference between the two questions; but, dig deeper and you'll see there is. The first question focuses on the cost of legal representation; the second question focuses on the overall cost of the case to the client and his or her life. Be that as it may, the question deserves an honest, upfront, no-nonsense answer, doesn't it? So I'll give it to you:
My flat fee for a misdemeanor DUI defense matter is: $3,000 – $4000 (depending on location) if the matter settles before trial; if the matter proceeds to trial, there is an additional $3,500 – $4,500 (depending on location) for my work up to and including trial. I know it's not cheap. But the cost of hiring an attorney defend you against a DUI allegation to you, your family, and your livelihood can be substantially and significantly more.
I'd ask that you continue reading even in the likely event you have “sticker shock.” To put my fees in perspective, let's talk about what my clients can expect from me if they hire me.
What My Clients Accused of DUI Can Expect From Me.
MY PROMISE TO MY CLIENTS ACCUSED OF DUI:
As your legal counsel, I PROMISE TO:
- Fully and completely explain the processes of what happens when you get charged with DUI in Idaho, including the fact that there are two (2) separate proceedings;
- Obtain all evidence the state has to support its claim of DUI;
- Carefully review the evidence to ensure:
- The initial traffic stop was constitutionally sound and was not improperly prolonged or extended
- The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) were done correctly and in a standardized manner as required to be valid
- Any Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) test was performed on a certified device, by a qualified law enforcement officer, in the correct manner
- Any Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test was obtained pursuant to constitutional protections and using proper policies and procedures to ensure an accurate result
- Fully and completely explain the results of my analysis of all of the evidence and my conclusion(s) about how to best attack the evidence should the matter proceed to trial
- Be fully and completely prepared to engage in productive plea negotiations with the government with an eye toward getting the best possible negotiated outcome
- Fully and frankly discuss any offer of settlement (plea offer) made by the prosecutor in light of the strengths/weaknesses in the government's case so an informed decision is possible
- Be fully and completely prepared to engage in pre-trial litigation (motion(s) to suppress and motion(s) in limine) to limit the government's ability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- Be fully and completely prepared to select a constitutionally-sound jury
- Do all that is necessary and proper to zealously represent my client and ensure the prosecutor is held to his burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt every step of the way
- Be prepared to argue for the lowest possible sentence in the event of a guilty verdict
DETAILS OF MY PROMISES TO MY DUI CLIENTS:
1. Anyone accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will guide them through the process and explain it so that they can understand it. For example, many clients don't know there are two separate “cases” involving the potential suspension of their driver's license. That's right – 2 separate “cases.” The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) driver's license suspension case and the court case. The ITD case has an extremely short timeline (7 days from the service of the “Notice of Administrative License Suspension”); the court case takes much longer (months).
2. Anyone accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will ensure all of the evidence against her is obtained from the government. In a DUI case, the evidence typically consists of: (1) police reports; (2) Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) logs; (3) dash cam video showing my client's driving pattern; (4) body cam video and/or audio of law enforcement's interaction with my client; (5) results of any roadside Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs); (6) results of any analysis of my client's “Breath Alcohol Concentration” or BrAC; and (7) results of any Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) measured after my client's blood has been obtained by law enforcement (either voluntarily or via a warrant).
3. Anyone accused of DUI in Idaho who who makes me part of their team gets someone who will carefully and meticulously review the discovery with an eye toward ensuring all proper constitutional requirements were followed in from law enforcement's first contact with my client to my client's arrest. This is because, if the vehicle stop is “bad,” or does not comply with the constitutional requirement necessary for the stop, all the evidence against my client may be subject to “suppression.” Additionally, if the stop was “prolonged” improperly, even though it may have been a “good” stop at the start, it can be found to have turned “bad” and the evidence gathered after the stop went “bad” is also subject to “suppression.” In these circumstances, the government may not be able to use the evidence against my client.
4. Any accused of DUI in Idaho who who makes me part of their team gets someone who will carefully and meticulously review the discovery with a eye toward ensuring law enforcement followed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Idaho State Police (ISP) requirements for performing the SFSTs. There are numerous requirements the police must follow when they have someone perform field sobriety tests. If those requirements are not followed, the tests are not “Standardized” at all. If that's the case, the evidence of the results of one or all of the SFSTs may be excluded from evidence at trial.
5. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who who makes me part of their team gets someone who will carefully and meticulously review the results of any BrAC test. This means getting: (1) the manufacturers's documentation for the particular device used; (2) the quality assurance logs maintained by law enforcement; (3) the law enforcement officer who administered the test was properly qualified to do so; and (4) all of the requirements for a valid BrAC sample were followed.
6. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will carefully and meticulously review all the events surrounding the obtaining of a blood sample from my client from which the blood sample was taken. This means ensuring: (1) consent, if any, was properly obtained; (2) if a warrant was issued, that the grounds for the warrant were proper and law enforcement didn't “leave anything out” when they applied for the warrant; (3) the proper procedures were followed to ensure the sample was not contaminated; and (4) ensure the proper procedures were followed in the testing and reporting of the results.
7. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will take the time to fully explain the evidence obtained from the government, my analysis of that evidence, and the best ways of attacking the evidence if the matter was to proceed to trial. This would include explaining the difference between a “motion to suppress evidence based on a constitutional violation” and a “motion in limine to exclude evidence from trial” because the proper legal requirements for that evidence cannot be met by the government.
8. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will be fully prepared to use the results of my analysis of the evidence to constructively engage in meaningful plea negotiations with the government with an eye toward the best possible negotiated outcome for my client. The process of “plea negotiations” is a critical step in any case, including a DUI case. Some think the government's offer is “standardized” meaning, every alleged first-time DUI offender gets the same offer from the government. I do not subscribe to this “one-size-fist-all” version of plea negotiations. Instead, I will use each and every “chink in the armor” of the case against my client to attempt to reach a negotiated settlement for my client.
9. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will fully and frankly discuss the benefits of any plea offer. It would be impossible for a client to properly consider the prosecutor's offer of settlement (plea deal) without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the government's case and the benefits being offered by the prosecutor to settle the case.
10. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will file all necessary and appropriate pre-trial motions (suppression and in limine) to make proving my client's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as difficult, if not impossible, for the government. Because of all the preparation and document review, I will be prepared to file any necessary and appropriate pre-trial motions on time.
11. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will be prepared to select the best jury for my client's trial. This means being well read and practiced on the latest cutting-edge jury selection methods to ensure no juror who sits in judgment labors under a constitutionally recognized impairment which makes them ineligible to sit on my client's jury.
12. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will make certain the prosecutor is held to his burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt, on each and every essential element of the crime charged. I will be prepared to make all proper objections (although I may let some things “go” for tactical reasons). I will cross-examine all the state's witnesses. I will, at the end of the day, zealously represent my clients.
13. Any person accused of DUI in Idaho who makes me part of their team gets someone who will, in the event of a guilty verdict, be fully prepared to argue for the lowest possible sentence. I will not let my belief in my client's innocence prevent me from fully and completely preparing for the possibility of a guilty verdict. If my client is found guilty, I will be ready to argue for the lowest possible sentence so the impact on my client is minimized as much as possible.
COSTS FOR DUI DEFENSE
As I said at the start of this article: My flat fee for a misdemeanor DUI defense matter is: $3,000 – $4000 (depending on location) if the matter settles before trial; if the matter proceeds to trial, there is an additional $3,500 – $4,500 flat fee (depending on location) for my work up to and including trial. I know it's not cheap. But the cost of a DUI allegation to you, your family, and your livelihood can be substantially and significantly more.
I will be honest and upfront. I am fully aware there are other attorneys who perform DUI defense in the Boise area specifically, and in Idaho in general, charge anywhere from $500 to $2,000. I'm sure some of those attorneys do a very fine job for their clients. Because of the time I dedicate to each and every one of my client's cases, I simply must charge more. I am not an attorney who takes cases with an eye toward settlement. I believe such a mindset leads to sub-par representation for DUI clients.