Attorney Payment Methods

When hiring a DUI Attorney, one of the first things which will be covered is payments.  Listed below are the five main cost-assessment methods and a short definition.

Contingent Fees:

Only when the desired outcome of a trial takes places does the lawyer receive payment from their client. Contingent fees are not always acceptable in criminal cases.

Warning: If you can convince a lawyer to represent you in a DUI on a contingency fee basis, the lawyer may be unethical, incompetent or both. Make sure you check with the Bar in your state to make sure that this type of arrangement is acceptable.
As seen here

The reason contingent fees are not usually acceptable in criminal cases is because that attorney’s only hope of getting paid for that case, is if they go to trial. In many cases, it’s not in the best interest of the defendant to go to trial when an out-of-court settlement can be made. The court system doesn’t want the lawyer to unnecessary convince their client to go to court.

Time-Based Billing:

Most commonly done by the hour, time-based billing can become extremely expensive. When discussing costs, ask your prospective attorney for the hourly rate and minimum billing increments. Suppose your attorney charges $300 per hour with billing increments of 5 minutes, each call, each e-mail, and any other task related to your case that takes fewer than 5 minutes will cost $36 a piece. It’s a great way for the lawyer to make more money for less work.

Often, you will have to deposite a large sum of money into a trust fund that the Attorney, in turn, bills against. Once the trial is over and all is said and done, the client will receive the remainder of the trust fund. This method is very tedious as the attorney would have to document every minute of their working day.

Tiered Flat Fees:

The attorney will separate all stages of the case and assign a set amount of money for each. If the trial ends early, then you are not responsible for paying any of the stages not yet reached. An example of a simple tiered flat fee would be a $4500 charge to cover any work done pre-trial and an additional $4500 to cover the trial. Many cases are resolved out-of-court meaning, if your case fell into this category, you would only pay for the 1st tier.

Flat Fees:

There are advantages and disadvantages to paying flat-fees for an Attorney to take your case. An advantage would be, regardless of how many calls, emails, or visits to your Attorney, they will not bill you for additional services. What you agreed upon is what you will pay. One of the only disadvantages would be if the case doesn’t go to court. You would be paying the same amount of money as someone who was going to court.


Pro-Bono is a Latin word meaning, “for the public good.” To put it simply, the attorney would take your case for free. As awesome as this may sound, unless you:

  • …are extremely famous
  • …are related or a close personal friend to a DUI Attorney
  • …have a case which would be a good referral for the Attorney
  • …have a potential civil-suit against a cop beating you unnecessarily during the arrest
  • …have a case which could result in the change of a law or multiple laws

If you fall in the category of not being able to afford a lawyer, the court may appoint one for free or at a highly discounted price. However, if you have a vehicle, you probably don’t fall under this category.