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How Much Does It Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Toronto?

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Potential Toronto-area clients who initially consult with us about their impaired driving charges tend to have many questions. Our DUI criminal defence lawyers often preface our responses to these questions with "it depends."

For example: "Can you beat the charges?"

"It depends," we'll begin our response, knowing that the outcome of the case relies on dozens of different factors, each of which could prove favourable or fatal to the likelihood of securing positive results.

The answer to the often-asked question of how much it costs to hire a Toronto DUI lawyer is also "it depends." But we typically respond first by asking potential clients how much they think a DUI conviction will cost them. Few know the answer, and most are shocked when we tally up the potential costs for them as such:

You can expect to pay a bare minimum of $9,000 , with the average costs of a first-time DUI conviction adding up to $21,000 . These costs are based on a $1,000 fine and $2,000 in fees covering mandatory enrollment in Ontario's " Back on Track " education/treatment program, Ignition Interlock program, and license reinstatement. You're also looking at a minimum of $2,000 in annual "high-risk" insurance premiums that can go as high as $10,000 and last up to six years. Oh, and unless you're willing to walk, you'll probably have to pony up some cash for alternative transportation during your license suspension.

And these are just the tangible costs. If you depend on your ability to drive and/or driver's license for your work, that DUI might cost you that employment. Your new permanent criminal record adds a further impediment to future employment and educational opportunities. And, if you enjoy international travel, that DUI might bar or impede your entry into certain countries.

Given all the financial pain and other assorted aggravation that comes with a DUI conviction, you should always consult with a competent DUI lawyer before thinking about defending yourself or considering a guilty plea .

OK, So How Much Will a DUI Defence Cost?

Once we've educated potential clients about how much they can expect to pay if convicted, we're willing to discuss fees and the different variables that affect them. We'll admit right off the bat that professional legal services aren't cheap but suggest a cost/benefit analysis to assess their worth. Perhaps the most significant factors determining the cost of a DUI defence in Toronto are the lawyer's experience and the complexity of the case. A Toronto-area DUI lawyer with a solid record of success amassed over a decade or more will undoubtedly charge more than a lawyer who's relatively new to the job and has only defended a few cases. The more complex the circumstances relating to your DUI, the longer it will take for your lawyer to develop and execute a strong DUI defence strategy.

Time equals money, as the saying goes, and your lawyer may need to address many issues depending on the distinct DUI charges and circumstances underlying the arrest. Such issues may include:

  • Whether the charges are laid as an indictable or summary conviction offence.
  • Investigating options for getting charges dropped or withdrawn pre-trial.
  • Determining whether potential Charter Rights violations can be brought into the case.
  • If additional evidence can be gathered in support of the defendant.
  • Whether the trial will be held before jury or judge.
  • What level of judicial pre-trial work the case may need.
  • How much evidence is the Crown likely to use, and what type?
  • Assessing witnesses for the Crown and Defence.
  • Determining the need for potential expert witnesses.
  • Plea deal negotiations.

Hourly Fees Versus Block Fee Billing

Toronto-area DUI lawyers charge by the hour or by a block-fee structure that offers a set price for the overall handling of your case. Hourly billing has long been practiced in the profession because it ensures the law firm that all costs will be covered no matter how complex the case or how much time will be needed to resolve it. Hourly rates in the GTA are driven by experience, a firm's overhead costs, and demand for its legal services.

The provincial governing body for lawyers, the Law Society of Ontario, has a fee schedule based on seniority and experience. The schedule's fees range from $165 for new lawyers with less than a year of experience to $350 for those who've been practicing for more than 20 years. However, the schedule is not mandatory, and Ontario lawyers can and do charge whatever they want, with hourly rates for criminal defence in the GTA ranging from $75 to $750. You get what you pay for, and new or inexperienced lawyers typically charge near the low end of this range. The upper end is only charged by the most prestigious firms whose lawyers have made a name for themselves by serving high-profile clients in news-making cases.

Block-fee billing has become popular in recent years, with more GTA criminal defence lawyers adopting the method. Many firms also offer structured block fees that account for whether the case goes to trial. Under this scenario, you get charged a primary block fee for all your lawyer's services except the trial and a separate block fee to pay the lawyer for time spent in court, typically based on a daily rate. You might also need to pay separate fees if your defence needs the services of a private investigator or expert witnesses such as a toxicologist or medical specialist.

Given that many DUI cases are resolved with a one-day trial, we can offer you another estimate to help you assess the potential cost of your DUI defence. A recent Canadian Lawyer Legal Fees Survey calculated that Ontario lawyers charged $6,111 on average to defend clients in a one-day criminal trial. Whatever the cost of your DUI defence, your most important question is how much is it worth to secure a favourable outcome ?

Secure a Solid DUI Defence with TorontoDUI

The criminal defence DUI lawyers of TorontoDUI would be happy to discuss the details of your DUI with a free initial consultation. We work closely with our clients to ensure the best possible outcome and offer flexible payment plans as needed. With a successful record of winning thousands of DUI cases in the Greater Toronto Area, contact TorontoDUI today.

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