We’ve discussed in previous posts the many potential consequences of a DUI conviction. These include jail time, hefty fines, social stigma and the installation of an expensive ignition interlock device. A conviction also means you’ll have a criminal history, and Tennessee doesn’t allow expungement of DUI convictions. It will be on your record forever.
It is vitally important to have skilled legal representation whenever you come into contact with the criminal justice system, particularly if you are facing drunk driving charges. Having a lawyer by your side will:
- Ensure protection of your legal rights in a DUI proceeding
- Help you minimize penalties (including collateral consequences like loss of a CDL, imposition of trash collection public work days, and loss of educational, financial or job opportunities)
- Give you the knowledge and negotiating power to possibly have charges reduced or dropped altogether
- Offer you advice, guidance and support throughout the process
A surprising additional benefit
A recent study released by QuoteWizard.com, an online car insurance comparison site, reveals another key benefit of hiring a DUI defense lawyer – huge financial savings. The study sought insurance quotes from multiple insurers for hypothetical drivers, both male and female, with and without DUI convictions. The study authors also looked at the impact of negligent driving (comparable to reckless driving here in Tennessee) convictions on insurance rates.
The results showed that a DUI conviction means an average of $830 more per year for car insurance, and that the price increase lasts for at least three years, and possibly up to five years, post-conviction. This means that, just in car insurance, a DUI will cost about $2500 over three years. There are considerable savings for people who can negotiate DUI charges down to reckless driving charges: a reckless driving conviction on your record cost about $1000 additional over three years (as opposed to $2500).
A skilled defense attorney is much more likely to be able to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether by challenging evidence, can argue for leniency, will help minimize penalties, and can help you keep your license. The QuoteWizard research shows that overall cost savings associated with having a criminal defense lawyer on your side during a DUI case is as much as $4,000 for a first-time offender. The costs – and corollary savings – go up – considerably for subsequent charges.
If keeping you out of jail or lessening the fines and court costs you face wasn’t enough of a reason to hire an experienced DUI defender, this study proves that there is a massive financial incentive to do so.