How Much Does a Raleigh DWI Lawyer Cost?

You’ve gotten a DWI in Raleigh or somewhere else in North Carolina. One of two things are happening right now: 1) You are completely freaking out or 2) You don’t think it’s a big deal. Let’s clarify what you should be feeling. It’s a serious matter in that a DWI conviction can affect your ability to drive, your ability to get a job, financial aid, and your insurance. But, it’s one of the most common charges in North Carolina, so a lot of people have them. You didn’t kill anyone or rob a bank, so in the grand scheme of things, you will still be able to live a normal, productive life.

With that clarified, a DWI is not a case that you want to handle on your own, being that there are consequences that are not insignificant should you be convicted. Some people think that a DWI isn’t a big issue, or that their blow was high so there’s nothing to fight the case with, so they just walk in and plead guilty. Let me be very clear about this: regardless of what you think the facts of your case are, THIS IS THE LAST THING YOU SHOULD DO. Please do yourself a favor and either hire an experienced Raleigh DWI attorney or if you can’t afford to hire one, request a court appointed attorney. Just because you blew above a 0.08 does not mean you’re guilty, and an attorney will know how to evaluate the nuances of your case to make sure law enforcement did everything right and to get you the best outcome possible. If you just walk in and plead guilty or don’t have an attorney helping you, there’s a good chance that the cost of your consequences will actually be greater than what it would have cost to hire a DWI attorney.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. What does it actually cost to hire a Raleigh DWI lawyer? Drumroll please. It depends. On what?

  • The complexity of your case
  • The experience of the attorney
  • Your previous criminal and driving record

Let me give you a straighter answer. In Wake County, an experienced and aggressive DWI attorney typically costs between $2,000 and $4,000. If you have a good driving record, no previous DWIs, and your case isn’t all that complicated, then you can expect the fee to be on the lower side of that range. If you have a very complex case and/or you have had previous DWIs and there is a risk of jail time, it will likely be on the higher side of that range. Some attorneys, including me, will allow for the fee to be paid on a payment plan while others will require the full amount up front. These fees represent only the attorney’s portion of the fee and do not include other court costs and fines that come along with a possible DWI conviction.

Does that sound expensive? If you can’t afford to hire a GOOD DWI attorney, then ask for a public defender. You can definitely find a cheaper attorney, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. There are many reasons why a cheaper attorney may charge less, including:

  • Less experience
  • Practices many different areas of the law
  • A lawyer that doesn’t have an established reputation and is discounting fees to get clients in the door

Sometimes, a cheap attorney can get you a worse outcome, so you want to be careful about who you pick. You should be looking for someone who only practices criminal and/or traffic law. If someone practices 5 different areas of the law, the concern is that they have general knowledge of each area but in depth knowledge in none of those areas. Look at on-line reviews. Does the attorney have reviews? How many? What do the reviews say? Ask how long the attorney has been practicing. Ask what percentage of his or her practice is DWI cases. Educate yourself and do your research to make sure you are making the best decision possible. Remember, a DWI lawyer’s fee might seem expensive up front, but when you add up the costs of poor representation over time, the cost is much, much greater than paying for a good attorney.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.