DUI/DWI cases are complex and difficult to take to trial. The system is stacked against you. A first offense DUI/DWI is a misdemeanor that carries the possibility of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2500.00, installation of an Ignition Interlock device on one or more of your vehicles, payment of various other costs and fees for classes, DMV fees, costs of emergency vehicles, court costs, and a criminal record. The experience of the arrest alone can be traumatizing. You may be unfairly saddled with the stigma of being a dangerous “drunk driver” just because you were arrested because everyone assumes the worst. But it is so easy to make an honest mistake and find yourself facing these serious consequences.
The laws become increasingly onerous because “drunk drivers” are popular victims of all politicians’ desire to be “tough on drinking and driving.” The police, prosecutors, and judges are all against you because they don’t want to be seen as soft on “drunk drivers” and because they too are subject to political pressure to “throw the book at drunk drivers.” The courts in Virginia move extremely fast and it can seem like a whirlwind. “Drunk drivers” are a popular target for the Commonwealth and localities to increase revenues through steadily rising fines and court-imposed fees and steadily declining thresholds for being “under the influence” because they have no friends in the system.
For all these reasons, these are not cases that “general practice” lawyers can expect to pick up and handle properly with ease, especially with the time constraints involved. Quality DUI/DWI defense takes special knowledge and training that not all attorneys possess or take the time to get. Because a proper defense requires that investment in knowledge and training, it is not uncommon for attorney fees for DUI/DWI cases to be several thousand dollars.
Many people feel compelled to pay a small fee for what might end up as a less-than-adequate defense or forgo representation altogether because they think their case is hopeless and they cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars in what they perceive as a “lost cause.” But I believe that a person’s life and future should not be thrown away over one simple mistake. Everyone deserves a second chance.