If you've never had to hire a DUI Lawyer, then you should read this.


Find The Best DUI Lawyer So You Get An Awesome Result Without Getting Ripped Off.

If you've never had to hire a DUI Lawyer, then you probably don't know how to compare them to make sure you're getting what you need for a fair price. All the topics in this article are here to prevent that.


Step one, stop thinking that all Spokane DUI lawyers’ legal services are the same. They’re not! Your experience with one DUI lawyer compared to another could be vastly different for many reasons.

Just like any other thing that you may purchase there are low quality options, average options, and high-end options.

Now, low quality options are not the best idea as far as hiring legal representation. I’d steer you away from any notion of that. However, high-end may be over-kill. It just depends on your situation and your finances.

Most people just want someone they can trust to help them, while providing good value at a fair price. And, that’s what I’d encourage you to look for as well.

Using Price Alone To Pick A Spokane DUI Lawyer Is Foolish

Yeah, I get it. Price is an issue. You’ve got bills to pay and this DUI business was not in the budget.

You’re probably freaking out about how much it’s going to cost. And asking, “can I afford this?”

The good news is, it’s probably not as much as you’re thinking…but I won’t B.S. you either, it’s going to leave a small financial dent, but let’s make it a small manageable small dent.

I’m going to show you how to manage your costs so you get the most bang for your buck, while avoiding being ripped off. And, yes some of my colleagues are going to be pissed that I’m sharing this stuff with you…

Figure Out What Can Be Done, Before Deciding Who Should Do It

The first answer that you need is what can be done for you. A good DUI lawyer should be able to give you at least some sense of what can be done. Weed out those that cannot answer this.

Once you feel you’ve gotten sufficient answers to the “what question”, then, and only then, should you start to figure out who should do it for you…and price will be part of that equation.

You see, by first answering the “what question”, you get an idea of what it will take to get your desired result. Then you can screen the “who” with the right experience, skills and tasks in mind.

For example, if you must go to trial, your “who” better have some litigation chops. Right? If it looks like your case has some special evidentiary issues, then your DUI lawyer should have a good background in writing and arguing evidence suppression motions…

This is an important point, because it shifts your thinking away from price and toward value. Two lawyers could charge you the same price, but one may give you much more value over the other, due to their experience or skill set.

Wouldn’t you prefer the most experienced lawyer with the best training to handle your DUI case as opposed to a junior lawyer who is figuring it all out on your dime?

Value matters…

Now, yeah, this all seems very obvious, but you’re probably not sure what to ask or look at to figure value out. Keep reading and you’ll find out…

Understanding How Spokane DUI Lawyers Charge

Generally, a lawyer can charge you an hourly rate or a flat fee (ex. $1,500 for a DUI), but contingency fees (based on outcomes) are not allowed in Washington for criminal cases.

Hourly fees can be scary and surprises can devastate your bank account. Trust me when I say that the bill you get at the end of your case might kill “that loving feeling” regardless of how good your result was.

I’m not a huge fan of hourly billing not only because it kills the good mojo that I might create, but it also let’s DUI Lawyers get lazy…and sometimes unnecessarily creative. Let’s face it. There’s an incentive to do more work, and billing more can make an associate look good to the boss.

Flat Fees can eliminate any financial surprises, but the trick is to start out with a fair and reasonable flat fee.  I’ll show you how to figure that out.

In my opinion, flat fees are typically the way to go, because it puts pressure on the lawyer to perform efficiently. But, there are some disadvantages as well. It may cause some lawyers to cut corners to save time.

How can I make sure my Spokane DUI Lawyer is not cutting corners?

Simple! Ask them what issues a good DUI lawyer will look for in a case like yours? Ask what issues some lawyers forget about? You’re really playing to their egos here. They’ll probably give you a laundry list. Just make sure you take a note or two and hold them to it. You can also do some light legal research of your own online.

But, What Are These Lawyers Charging Me For – What Are They Doing?

Basically, Your DUI Lawyer will do four major things:

  • gather information/evidence,
  • perform legal research and analysis,
  • negotiate on your behalf,
  • resolve your case via settlement or take the matter to motion or trial and let a jury decide.

This is a pretty basic breakdown, and there is a bit more to it than this, but you get the idea…

Essentially, your DUI Lawyer should find the best options and let you choose what is right for you.

You Should Have Different Expectations From Different Types Of DUI Firms


Yep, there are different types of law firms. Here is a brief breakdown:

  • The Big Snooty Downtown Firms – (no I’m not biased at all).
  • High Volume Firms
  • Highly Diversified Firms
  • Focused Low Volume Firms (A.K.A. Boutique Firms)
  • Large Firms
  • Medium Firms
  • Small Firms
  • Solo Practices

Think about your expectations, before you step into anyone’s office.

Here are a few expectation topics to consider:

  • How do you want to be treated?
  • How much and type of communication do you want?
  • What do you want your overall experience to be like?
  • Do you value personal service or is speaking to a middle man ok?
  • What do I expect as far as results and time frames?

Each type of firm has pros and cons, and size doesn’t always matter (now…now you know what I mean).

For example, I have a boutique firm by choice. I have less clients, and more time to spend on their cases and I get to work on a more personal level with them. It’s about quality of life for me and the quality of results for my clients…. I won’t be the richest lawyer in town, but I’m ok with that…life’s too short.

  • TIP

    A serious professional should always try to first understand your expectations, and then explain what you can actually expect and why. You really shouldn’t hire any DUI lawyer until you have a clear idea of what to actually expect.

4 Important Things To Watch Out For:


  • High volume generally means less time per case and per client… You’ll probably rarely actually speak to “your lawyer”.
  • Beware of the Highly-Diversified Firms! You can only be good at so many things/areas. So, what’s key here is how many lawyers do they have. If they have 10 practice areas and 10 lawyers…cool, but if they have 10 practice areas and 3 lawyers…watch out.
  • Always ask who your actual lawyer will be. Don’t assume. Senior lawyers may make the sale, but then pass off clients to junior lawyers. I call this bait and switch…

  • Huge stacks of files in small firms could be a warning sign that they are at or over capacity, if they do not have ample support staff. Take a minute and observe the chaos levels, and staff stress levels.

What Other Skills And Factors Should I Use To Compare DUI Lawyers?

Not all of these factors will bear the same weight in your decision or what is a justified reasonable price to charge you for your DUI case. Here are some of those important factors:

  • Experience: not only in years, but with DUI cases. The number of years does not always mean better. I’ve known some complete legal hacks that have decades of experience. I’ve also know some sharp brand new lawyers that were more than competent. Nonetheless, experience does matter, because in general, they’ve been exposed to more situations and outcomes.

For example, over my 14 years of DUI experience, I’ve handled hundreds of cases. I’m pretty good at predicting how a case will resolve and how the players will react to certain factors…

  • Training: people operate a lot on assumptions and some of them are very dangerous. To practice law you need to get through law school (although there are exceptions), and pass a Bar Exam. What those two things do is train you to find and understand legal issues.

Guess what they don’t cover or teach? Here are a few biggies:

  • Persuasion
  • In depth negotiations tactics and strategies
  • How to put on a winning trial for your client….

For better or worse…most lawyers learn these skills on the job. Look for lawyers that have invested in their craft and gone beyond law school to become better at these vital client tasks.


    Lawyers have egos and all criminal lawyers love to call themselves trial attorneys—yeah right. That’s almost like all family doctors calling themselves surgeons. There’s much more to trial work then poking a few holes and saying some clever crap. It’s an art all to its own. Here’s a tip that took me a few years to learn as a younger lawyer. Jurors hate it when defense lawyers sit back and “poke holes” in the state’s case. They’ll react better to a counter story that challenges the governments. Understanding and working with story is not something you master by reading a book. You know what I mean…

  • Reviews: reviews are an important window into results and performance. Now, some slimy folks get fake reviews, but you can usually spot them a mile away. The real ones just feel real.

It’s generally considered a bit taboo with regard to legal ethics to talk about your “track record”. It can be misleading and many lawyers will avoid it. However, if they do talk about it they should be humble, and warn you that past results are no guarantee to future results. If they’re arrogant and don’t do this, run-away.

Just keep in mind that no two cases are exactly the same, and though seemingly similar, they may have drastically different outcomes.

  • TIP

    This is an opinion, but lawyers with huge egos tend to make everything all about them, and their always blabbing about how great they are… You know the type. Boring! But, your case should be all about you, and you should not have to compete with your lawyer’s ego. You’re not paying for bravado and coolness, you’re paying for results…

  • Personality: you’re going to have to work and trust what this person says to you. If they’re a jerk to you, avoid them. You’re probably just a pay check to them. There are plenty of lawyers in the sea—trust me on that.
  • Available Legal Resources: dude some lawyers are cheap! We depend on legal information that is current to work with you. Laws change. Cases get overturned. Courts make rulings that affect us all the time. Thus, it’s worthwhile to have a system such as Westlaw Research to stay current.

Not all legal info systems are the same. Some are way behind and not as trustworthy. For example, we spend a few thousand dollars each month just to make sure we don’t miss any new cases or developments. If you want to be top notch you have to invest in your operation.

This is a huge issue that is overlooked by most.

The scary thing is that many lawyers still use the law library. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but when you consider how busy most lawyers are and how long it takes to get to the library and use it… So, they may skip it, rush it, or depend on legal interns to get it right.

An even scarier observation, many lawyers are lazy and don’t keep up. They find new developments on the fly by listening to other lawyers at court. That means some of their clients might be missing out…

  • Office Observations: taking a minute to just soak in the office environment can give you some important clues about things like, capacity, harmony and chaos, personalities, and overall client happiness. How do the staff handle the phones? Are the phones ringing non-stop? Do the people in the office look happy, or stressed? Busy or lax? How do the desks look? Heaped with towers of messy files, or organized and clean…?

Is your legal fee covering some seriously high monthly overhead expenses, or are you really buying some beneficial legal talent? The benefit you’re getting is the key. You should be clear on the benefits of your choice.

Stopping and looking around can lead to clues that you’d never find out otherwise.

How To Make Sure That You’re Getting A Fair Price

There are five elements to this:

  • How many hours the average DUI case takes.
  • How close to the average is your case?
  • The lawyer’s hourly fee or flat fee rate.
  • The average going hourly rate.
  • Justifications for the lawyer to charge above the average rate.

For example, let’s say the average first offense DUI takes 10 hours (which is pretty close). Assume for this example, that the average hourly DUI Fee is $250 an hour. The DUI lawyer quoted you a $5,000 flat fee that doesn’t include a trial. A bit of easy math reveals that $5,000 divided by 10 hours equals $500 per hour.

Wow! That seems pretty high for a run of the mill Spokane DUI case. So then, you must ask what justifies this higher hourly fee.

Say something like, “I’m not sure how to compare prices between lawyers, but what I’ve seen is the average price is $200-$250 an hour. Why is your price so much higher?”

The answer should be clear or at least a good justification that makes sense.

What does it mean if they are higher than the average?

  • They are not very efficient or experienced.
  • They’re ripping you off – run away!
  • They are well trained and have some seriously beneficial experience that matters to you and is worth the investment. This is the reason that you hope for, but again, the highly valued benefit(s) should be clear to you.
  • TIP

    Washington Legal Ethics require that a lawyer’s fees be reasonable and fair. That means you shouldn’t be the victim of an unjustifiable fee, but it still happens. The problem is that these standards are very subjective. Let your common sense guide you.


    Mood pricing is not based on any real standard other than the lawyer’s mood or financial situation. For example, if a lawyer is having a good month they may get a bit cocky with pricing, because if you say no way, they are not suffering. However, at the beginning of the month things may not be great and they may give you a lower price for the exact same case, because they need the business.

    However, you’re armed with knowledge now. You know how to figure out a fair hourly rate.

What does it mean if the DUI lawyer is charging significantly less than the average? It could mean several things:

  • They’re new to the profession.
  • They’re not very confident.
  • They’re desperate.
  • They super efficient…you hope for this one.

Just be aware that you should also carefully screen those that are significantly lower than the average. You need to make sure that you’re getting the quality that you need and expect.

How To Save Money By Negotiating Your Legal Fees


Are your legal fees negotiable? Oh, heck yeah, they are!

The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no…

Want to have some fun?

When you hear the price quote gasp, bug your eyes out a bit, and maybe even let your mouth open. Look surprised, and don’t say anything for a minute. Chances are if the lawyer breaks the silence with a questions like, “is that high” or “what were you thinking”, you’ve got a chance of negotiating. After you gasp and pause for a few, ask if the price is negotiable at all?  Worst case scenario they’ll just say “no”.

If you like the lawyer and in reality you’d like to hire him or her, then say something like, “normally I’d shop around a bit, but I’d like to go with you. Is there any way you can give me a better price than that?” Just see what happens.

Now if you’re already getting a fair price and a good lawyer…don’t be too greedy. Don’t push it too hard, because they may tell you to take a hike.

Other discounts to try for:

  • If they offer payment plans, ask if there is a discount for paying the entire retainer upfront.
  • Military discounts.
  • Student discounts.
  • The Single Parent Discount (I made that up, but hey it might work) …

5 Despicable Practices That You Should Watch Out For


  1. Scare tactics. For example, the lawyer says that you could do a year in jail. While this is true, it would be extraordinarily rare for a first offense DUI case. Most folks end up doing 1-2 days if any at all.

    Scare tactics keep you in a hyper emotional state that makes it easier for you to part with money without asking any questions. This is a stupid tactic from a reputation and business standpoint, but I hear it all the time.

  2. First Contact and First Words are all about the lawyer’s fees. Do you have any idea of how much you matter to this lawyer? You’re just a pay check to them. You want someone who listens and cares about results.
  3. High Unjustified Fees. Unethical and they’re literally ripping you off (or really narcissistic personality-fun-fun).
  4. Bait and switch. You start out meeting with a senior attorney who impresses you. But in reality, you’re never going to see them again (or rarely). You’re going to get passed to a junior attorney or even an intern. However, you thought you were buying the senior attorney’s time and experience. Ask, “who will be my attorney?” Follow up with, “Who will be with me at court?” If you’re really worried ask, “who you’ll speak with when you call?”
  5. Taking The Easy Out. Some lawyers will not push for the very best result, and they take the first reasonable offer. That’s not what you’re paying for. You deserve the best deal or result.

6 Things That You Should Walk Away With, After Your DUI Consultation:


  • Was the consultation about you or them? Did the lawyer listen or talk the whole time? It’s best if the lawyer takes the time to let you tell your story, before they launch into a consultation. Hopefully, they’ll ask a few clarifying questions as well.
  • Worst case scenario, best case scenario, and what the lawyer actually thinks will happen with your DUI case. The ability to properly set realistic expectations without the B.S. is the mark of a professional and trustworthy lawyer. It’s important that the lawyer take the reins here, because a potential client really isn’t in a position to actually set the expectations.

    Sometimes this is an issue, when someone hears or gets a different outcome and they compare it to “their friends DUI three years ago”.

  • You should walk away with an idea of your issues, options, and possible strategies. You really should never just hear, “we’ll do or best and see how it turns out.” It’s true nobody can guarantee an outcome, but it is possible for an experienced Spokane DUI Lawyer to give you a range of outcomes that should be pretty close to the mark, unless you’ve got a unique situation.
  • A solid quote of what your expected legal fees. Be really careful with those that charge hourly. Try to get them to agree to a cap. Know how many hours the average case like your will take. Make sure you also know how far your case is from normal. (I call these red flags…the more red flags you have the farther we are from the average case).
  • All of your questions should get reasonably answered. A lawyer that is irritated by questions about their experience, training, and prices, probably have something to hide. In my opinion, the anger is to through you off the trail.

    A seasoned professional won’t care about any relevant questions, if they’re asked respectfully.

  • A good feeling. This may be the most important thing to walk away with. Trust your gut. If you get a funny feeling or bad vibe. Move on. Interview more lawyers. I promise there are plenty to choose from. Remember it’s your butt on the line.

What About Getting A Public Defender?


If you have no other options, then by all means, a public defender is a valid choice. However, if you have the means to get a private DUI lawyer, then you should not get a public defender.

The public defenders’ office is swamped with cases. They just do not have the same amount of time that a private lawyer will have. It’s also kind of a mixed bag as to the quality of the lawyer that you’ll get. Some are awesome, but super busy, while others are less than awesome and super busy…

The bottom line is that the public defenders should be representing people that really need their services.

Will a public defender get me the same result as a private attorney? Sometimes yes. It just depends. The real difference is in the amount of time they have to work on your case. If you’re ok with someone spending a few hours on you, then no problem. If you’d rather someone spends whatever time is necessary, then you should go private.

You also won’t have nearly as much access to your public defender, because they are way overworked. Their case loads are very large to say the least.

More than likely, all communications with the PD will happen at court, or during court. This is very inefficient, and frustrating for their clients. You can miss a lot of work, due to this.


    Public Defenders will not handle your DOL hearing for you. You’ll need to hire a private attorney for that. Keep in mind there is a short strict time limit to request this hearing or you’ll lose your license automatically.

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