How much does it cost to instruct a drink driving solicitor?
...and do I need one!?
Challenging a drink driving case can be expensive, but may be worth your while if your driving licence is important. We regularly win drink driving cases on technical points of law and procedure. Just because you were over the legal alcohol limit, does not mean that you are guilty of a DUI offence.
The first point to consider if whether you actually need a specialist solicitor to represent you in court. After all, what's wrong with a bog-standard one? Unfortunately, like with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A general crime solicitor will certainly cost less, but it's of no benefit to you if you're banned for longer. Only you can appreciate the true cost of your driving licence, and what you will lose if you're convicted.
Ask yourself the following question: If you were diagnosed with a serious illness, would you take advice from your GP or would you speak to a specialist consultant? The advice given to you by your GP might be correct, but what if the consultant knows something your GP doesn't?
Our clients prefer to be represented by specialist driving defence solicitors because we can identify defences which might be overlooked elsewhere. Take the example below;
Ian was charged with drink driving and bailed to attend Chelmsford Magistrates' Court. He visited a local solicitor who reviewed the initial paperwork and advised Ian to plead guilty because he was over the limit. Ian was unsure whether to accept this advice so contacted us. Take a look at the paperwork below. Can you spot the error?
If you look closely you will see the words 'Breath difference' on the printout. The solicitor that our client had spoken to earlier had failed to notice this error. We simply called the CPS and asked them to discontinue the case. Our client even avoided the first hearing.
This is one example of why you should always seek a second opinion. A solicitor who does not specialise may overlook small procedural deficiencies which could help us win your case. We have spent years fine-tuning defence strategies to give our clients a service unlike any other. We pride ourselves on our ability to identify loopholes with police procedure and process. Take a look at our drink driving testimonials below.
Drink Driving Testimonials
Drink Driving Solicitor Fees
Now that we've established the importance of a specialist drink driving solicitor, you may want to know more about the costs. Instructing a specialist solicitor may not be as expensive as you might think, especially when compared to what you stand to lose. Listed below are just some of the costs associated with a driving ban;
- Loss of income (one study found a 40% reduction in household income)
- Increase in insurance premiums (on average 400% higher)
- Cost of taxis or public transport (over £50 per week)
- A court fine (up to £5000 in the Magistrates' Court)
I often explain to people charged with drink driving that 'costs' are the single most important factor when deciding whether to instruct a solicitor. This is because very little else will change in a drink driving case. Let me explain what I mean.
I have handled many drink and drug driving cases over several years and my personal view is that there is no real benefit in pleading guilty at the first hearing. Consider for yourself what you have to gain or lose. If you plead guilty at the first hearing you will receive a long disqualification. This will remain the same even if you are convicted at a later date. Please remember that 'credit' for an early guilty plea does not apply to the driving ban (meaning it is not reduced at a first hearing).
In my view, anyone facing a long ban (or worse) should never plead guilty before attending court for a trial. By attending court for a trial you force the CPS to prepare its case for court and arrange for witnesses to attend court (including police officers). If the officers fail to attend court, or the CPS does not have the correct documents at court, then you would usually win the case. Even if you went to court for a trial and, after checking to see if the CPS witnesses had attended court, you then pleaded guilty, the ban would remain the same as it was at the first hearing. In effect, you are no worse off. The only difference is the solicitors' costs.
The Magistrates' Court Sentencing Council confirms the above. You can read more about this below.
Can I get legal aid for drink driving?
If you earn over £13,000 per year you will not qualify for legal aid (subject to a few exceptions). If you do qualify, don't expect your solicitor to challenge the case on technical points of law and procedure. It is likely you will simply be advised to plead guilty.
You can use the Government's financial calculator to check if you are eligible for legal aid.
M.A.J Law do not have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency. This means that we cannot represent you on Legal Aid. We are a privately funded criminal defence firm. In my view, a drink driving case cannot be challenged in the correct way on legal aid rates of pay.
Drink driving, drug driving and failing to provide a specimen are all known as ‘summary only offences’. This means that they can only be tried in the Magistrates’ Court. A Magistrates’ Court will consist of 3 lay Magistrates, or a District Judge sitting alone. There are no gowns, wigs or juries in……
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Video Transcript The purpose of this video is to discuss the three most common ways to avoid a drink driving disqualification. If you have been charged with drink driving, it is a very serious offence, it is a criminal conviction, and it is always in your interests to consider the options open to……