Why Do You Need a DUI Lawyer and Is the Cost Worth It? 

by | Oct 18, 2022 | Find Right Lawyer

Many people decide not to get legal help with an impaired driving charge because they think it is unaffordable. The long-term consequences of a drunk driving conviction often exceed even the most expensive DUI lawyers’ fees.

A short answer to the question “are DUI lawyers worth it?” is “yes”. A DUI is really very expensive. Much more expensive than a DUI lawyer.

Learn how Mickelson & Whysall’s DUI lawyers can assist with your impaired driving charge in BC, providing reassurance and peace of mind. It might be one of the most cost-effective decisions you can make.

Driving while under the influence – or ‘DUI’ – is a serious matter in British Columbia.

If convicted, you face a driving ban, a fine, and a criminal record. Then there are all the other costs that you’ll incur, like towing and impound fees, increased insurance premiums, participation in the Ignition Interlock Program, mandatory rehabilitation…and so the list goes on.

With this resource: What Happens When You Get a DUI in BC?, you’ll get a taste of what happens in British Columbia when someone is charged with driving under the influence.

Should I get a Vancouver DUI lawyer or represent myself?

If you face charges of driving under the influence, you can choose between representing yourself or hiring a DUI lawyer.

Those who instruct DUI lawyers get much better outcomes than those who represent themselves.


Because a DUI lawyer is an expert in this area of law. They defend DUIs day in, day out. They know what strategies work when the police have made a mistake, and how different judges operate.

Unless you are a DUI lawyer, then it is very unlikely that you could achieve the same results.

We covered the related topic in 5 FAQs About Administrative Driving Prohibitions blog post

How much does a DUI lawyer cost BC?

But like all professionals in Canada, Vancouver DUI lawyers charge for their expertise. How much? Well, that depends.

Here at Mickelson & Whysall, we provide a fixed fee quote based on the complexity of your case. We provide this quote after our first meeting with you, so you can budget accordingly. 

The fixed fee lawyer billing method

A flat fee billing system relies on prearranged total fees.

The billing system is easy to understand and simple to use.  Everyone knows exactly what services are involved and what the costs are at the beginning. In the end, there are no hidden costs or unexpected charges.

What is the best way for a DUI lawyer to estimate the cost of a DUI defence in advance?

If you hire a lawyer who focuses on DUI law, you can rest assured that they have defended hundreds, if not thousands, of DUI cases. Experienced DUI lawyers know how to defend such cases, including the time, effort, and money required for a strong defence.

The experience, seniority, and success rate of a DUI lawyer play a crucial role in determining DUI lawyer fees and costs.

Is it worth getting a DUI lawyer?

Yet some people are deterred by legal fees. While they are happy to pay for other professionals – be it a dentist or a car mechanic – they draw the line at legal representation.

Many people often underestimate the cost of not hiring a lawyer.

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe, including fines, driving prohibitions, and even jail time.

These can have long-term impacts such as increased insurance rates and potential effects on employment.

Therefore, hiring a lawyer may be expensive, but it’s often worth it to get the best outcome for your case.

The costs of a DUI conviction are high, financially, practically and sometimes even emotionally.

From a financial point of view, you will have to pay:

  • A fine, from $1000.00 and up
  • Towing and impoundment costs
  • Increased insurance premiums, called the Driver Risk Premium

You may also have to pay for:

  • The Responsible Driver Program
  • The Ignition Interlock Program
  • Repairs to your vehicle and any other vehicles you damaged
  • Alternative modes of travel

From a practical point of view, you may find that you:

  • Lose your job
  • Struggle to secure future employment
  • Certain countries bar individuals from travelling
  • Become isolated from your family and friends

The cost of all this can amount to many thousands of dollars.

Then there’s the emotional impact of a DUI conviction, which is not quite so easy to quantify.

Imagine not being able to see your children because you are serving a driving ban. Or having to tell a potential employer at a job interview that you have a driving record. Or not being able to go on holiday because of something that happened years ago.

A DUI conviction can bring shame and stigma for a long time, making you wish you could go back in time.

Severe impacts will affect your ability to travel and apply for employment opportunities.

Depending on your immigration status, you may also face deportation as a result of a criminal conviction for impaired driving.

When you take all this into consideration, the cost of a DUI lawyer is a small price to pay.  

Costs Incurred for 90-Day Immediate Roadside Prohibition [Under the Provincial Motor Vehicle Act, not criminal]

IRP [Fail or Refusal]
  • $930.00 for the Responsible Driver’s Program
  • $500.00 Penalty Fee
  • $250 Relicensing Fee
  • Approximately $1,100.00 in tow fees and tow lot storage fees

You could also be referred to the ignition interlock program where a Breathalyzer device is put in your car. This program costs around $2,260.00 for one year.

Besides the mentioned costs, you might face more driving restrictions or higher Driver Penalty Points, leading to higher insurance prices.

Criminal Charge [Impaired, over 0.08 mg% or Refusal]

If you face criminal charges for impaired driving, you must pay a fine of at least $1,000.00. for first-time offenders. The fine can go up to $2,000.00 if there are aggravating factors.

A Criminal Code conviction can also result in an ignition interlock referral.

For a first conviction, you must pay a Driver Risk Premium Fee of $1,108.00. You must pay this fee annually for 3 years.

A second conviction will run you $4,602.00 [payable each year for 3 years].

Generally if you are criminally charged with Impaired Driving or a Criminal Refusal, you will receive an Administrative Driving Prohibition [ADP] alongside your criminal charge.

The ADP regime will require you to pay a $500.00 penalty fee, $250.00 relicensing fee as well as any tow fees or storage fees that may apply. You will also be subject to a 90-day driving prohibition immediately.

Therefore, if you are criminally charged with a DUI [impaired driving] or Refusing to provide a breath sample, and are a first time offender who is not required to install an ignition interlock, you will incur a minimum of $5,074.00 in fees over the course of 3 years.

If you commit a second offence, you will be required to participate in the ignition interlock program. Additionally, you will need to pay a minimum of $18,816.00 for over a 3-year period.

If you get a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition or a Criminal DUI/Refusal charge, it will have financial consequences. This applies to any drinking and driving offense. Your driving record may trigger a further driving prohibition through the RoadSafetyBC review process.

Should I get a lawyer for my first DUI?

This advice applies, regardless of whether you are facing your first DUI or your fifth. Repeat offenders may face more serious consequences, including jail time.

However, those convicted of a DUI for the first time are not ‘spared’.

You can still expect a driving ban, a fine, and all the other costs listed above. This means expert legal representation is always important.

First-time DUI offenders often skip hiring a lawyer, thinking they’re guilty and wanting to quickly escape the consequences.

The problem with that reasoning is that once someone enters a guilty plea to a criminal charge, they cannot reverse it.

Many first-time DUI offenders are unaware that the evidence against them may not be as strong as they think. A skilled DUI lawyer can usually find something in the case that can help you get a better outcome.

What does a DUI lawyer do?

A DUI lawyer represents individuals facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes the offences of:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol level over .08%
  • Being in charge of a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over .08%
  • Refusing to provide a breath sample
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs

Skilled DUI lawyers know about drunk driving science, have similar training as police, and understand breath testing devices.

As DUI lawyers, we decide the best strategy in your case and then execute that strategy.

The primary aim is to get the charge(s) dropped at the earliest available opportunity.

This means gathering evidence to prove that:

  • We made procedural errors, which means the case cannot continue; and/or
  • The test results are unreliable; and/or
  • You are innocent of the charges

Various sources, from eyewitnesses to expert toxicologists, can gather evidence. The right approach depends on the facts of your case.

Our DUI lawyers will also represent you in court and adjudicator hearings, and accompany you to police interviews.

We want to help you keep your driving privileges and reduce the negative effects of a DUI conviction.

As our recent cases show, we are highly successful in defending IRPs and driving offences. We have helped countless people defend a charge of impaired driving. We can help you too. Even if you think it is an open and shut case, you may win on a technical argument.

It is always worth getting expert legal advice – the cost of a DUI conviction is just too great.

DUI lawyers Vancouver – get a quote

Did law enforcement charge you with driving under the influence?

Contact our Vancouver law office to find out how our DUI lawyers can help you.

Our partner, Meghan Forhan has a broad experience with DUI cases and has been named one of the three Best DUI Lawyers in Vancouver, BC

We’re here to assist if you require a criminal defence lawyer in BC

Finding a good criminal lawyer in British Columbia can be tough.

If you require legal assistance, it is important to conduct research and hire a competent defence lawyer. This will ensure that you or someone you know receives the appropriate help.

If your case goes to trial, you might be working with your lawyer for more than a year. It’s important to find the right fit. Read online reviews, check out potential lawyers carefully, and remember to ask important questions before signing any contracts.

If you need assistance with other types of charges, please check these articles:

  1. What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need to Defend a Fraud Case?
  2. How to Find a Good Criminal Defence Attorney in Vancouver B.C. ?

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