How Much Does a Drink Driving Lawyer Cost?
After a drink driving offence, one of the first tasks you are likely to do is seek legal advice. Even if you plan to plead guilty, it’s always good to consult with a lawyer about your unique situation to see if your penalties are eligible for a reduction. Drink driving lawyers in Sydney are trained to handle these cases, and here at McKenzie & McLoughlin Law, we have over 20-years of combined experienced to support your case.
Let’s Talk Costs
The next consideration, many times, is how much a drink driving lawyer costs. There is no “boilerplate” answer for this, as legal fees vary depending on law firm factors. Some lawyers have higher price-points per hour if they believe they are a high calibre legal team. Higher legal fees do not always equate to better legal representation.
Other firms work off contingencies depending on the case details, while some work on “fixed fee” basis. Fixed fees are often an advantageous structure and are usually attached to certain types of case. For example, when you plan to plead guilty to a charge.
In general, however, legal fees in Sydney typically run between $200-$400 per hour. Regardless of how the fee structure breaks down, you should ask for an itemised bill so your fee schedule is clear. A lawyer should always be clear about their fee structures with you for any legal matter, including drink driving charges. Don’t be afraid to ask your legal representation for this cost break down, so you know what you’re paying for, you are entitled to this unless it’s a fixed fee agreement.
Understanding “The Why” Behind Legal Costs
Legal representation costs can add up quickly, and it can be frustrating if you don’t understand why. The law is a complex system with many requirements and processes. While we are partial to a degree, even if we weren’t lawyers, we would advise you that there is no substitute for quality legal advice when faced with a criminal matter.
Let’s take a look at the legal process in drink driving cases so you better understand why the fees are structured the way they are, and why legal representation is often crucial to your case.
Drink Driving Legal Process
After your drink driving incident, you will get a notification as to when you need to appear in court. Magistrates in the Local Court handles most of these cases. Your next best step would be to hire a drink driving lawyer so you can get a clear picture of what to expect from your charges.
After you speak to the lawyer about the driving offence you can determine as to how you are going to plead; not guilty or guilty. Your lawyer will then prepare your matter and the appropriate paperwork depending on your plea instructions.
When you plead ‘guilty,’ the system is relatively straight forward and you might not need to appear in court on every court date depending on the circumstances of your case. When you plead ‘not guilty,’ a date will be set to hear your case before a Magistrate in the Local Court, until then you may have your licence suspended.
How to Prepare for Court – Hearing
If your plea is not guilty and as you await your hearing date, you and your lawyer will begin investigations into your case and collect evidence to support your position. Your lawyer will direct you in what they need so they can prepare for court. Some of the tasks your attorney may provide are:
- Collect witness testimony and statements, including from any Expert Witnesses
- Investigate the criminal statements by authorities
- Review recorded materials like interviews and forensic information
- Analyse imagery, video, or surveillance materials
- Decipher the criminal conduct and charges
- Review medical records (if applicable) of all parties involved
- Draft legal paperwork on your behalf
- Pay your court filing fees
- Issue subpoenas, including on The Commissioner of Police
Once your court date arrives, all of the efforts put into your case by your criminal lawyer will be on display in your court proceedings. Depending on the outcome of your case, you and your lawyer will have either won or need to do more work to wrap up your case properly.
When are Legal Fees Paid?
Now that you better understand the legal process, you might be wondering when you need to pay your legal fees to your criminal law firm. This depends on what the fee structure is with your particular legal team, but many firms require a lump sum at the start of your case. This amount should be paid into the lawyer’s Trusts Account, not their own Business AccontAccount. This “sum” is referred to as a “retainer” and allows a layer to start work on your case immediately. For fixed rate structures, fees may be required to be paid upfront before you go to court.
How to Prepare for Court – Sentence
Just like your legal team, you too will have responsibilities to adhere to in your drink driving criminal matter. When you take a proactive approach to your case, you can significantly impact the outcome of your charges and assist your lawyer in the process — some items you will want to think about or gather after speaking to your lawyer are:
- Acquire documentation of your driving record
- Provide proof that you need transportation in order to provide for yourself and family
- Establish your family structure and how it impacts them if you do not have transportation
- Provide documentation of your work compensation
- Collect character testimony about you and how you are typically a responsible citizen
- Attend a Rehabilitation and or Driver Education Course
- Sometimes something about you may be very relevant to the outcome, that only your lawyer will think of after you meet
Other Common Questions About Drink Driving Charges
As you await your appointment with your drink driving lawyer, here are some common questions we receive about these offences and their outcomes.
What is the legal drinking limit?
For the holder of an unrestricted driver’s licence, the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.05 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath. If your BAC concentration is 0.05 or higher, you are breaking the drinking and driving laws. This limit is first indicated by a breathalyzer test done at the time you are pulled over by authorities and then confirmed by a Breath Analysis Machine at a Police Station, following your arrest. The following table shows a complete list of BAC limits.
|READING||RANGE||WHO CAN BE CHARGED WITH THIS OFFENCE?|
|0.01 to 0.19||Novice||Holders of learner or provisional licences and also anyone who is unlicensed (including suspended or disqualified).|
|0.02 to 0.049||Special||Holders of learner or provisional licences and also anyone who is unlicensed (including suspended or disqualified) plus drivers of hire cars or drivers of heavy / dangerous loads.|
|0.05 to 0.079||Low||Any person driving a motor vehicle on a road or road related area.|
|0.08 to 0.149||Mid||Any person driving a motor vehicle on a road or road related area.|
|0.150 or greater||High||Any person driving a motor vehicle on a road or road related area.|
What if I am drunk “in” my car but not “driving?”
Police need to prove you are driving your car, which means you are in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of the vehicle. It’s important you seek advice from an experience lawyer, as you are not committing an offence just because you decide to sleep off your cocktail hour in the back seat of your car or simply because the keys to the vehicle are in the ignition.
How is my license handled after a drink driving charge?
Generally, your license is suspended after your drink driving incident, and you will need someone to help you with your car in that period. If you drive any vehicle while you are suspended, you will be breaking the law. If you are caught doing so by police, you will be charged with Driving whilst suspended and this will not help your drink driving charge, the sentence will likely be more serious.
What legal aid is available?
More often than not, legal aid isn’t available to those with traffic violations. The caveat to this is if you are facing potential imprisonment due to specific circumstances in your charges. Only a lawyer can help you determine this.
We understand that drink driving charges can leave you with more questions than answers, but we hope this gives you a good start in understanding your legal rights. If you are ready to hire an experienced legal team that helps people with these cases every day, please contact the offices of McKenzie McLoughlin Law to set up your appointment. We are ready to hear the details of your case and get you the best possible outcome.