Contingent Fees in DUI Cases
Ethics Rules Prohibit Contingent Fee Arrangements in Criminal and DUI Cases
A contingent fee is one where the lawyer gets paid only if he/she performs in a certain way. It is most commonly used in the context of personal injury cases, where the law firm gets paid a percentage of the winnings or settlement in the case.
The ethics rules governing lawyers prohibit the acceptance of a contingent fee in certain types of cases. The most common prohibitions are in criminal and family law matters.
Since DUI cases are all criminal (or involve a criminal and civil element), you will be hard pressed to find a lawyer who will accept your DWI on a pay-per-performance basis.
Warning: If you can convince a lawyer to represent you in a DUI on a contingency fee basis, the lawyer may be unethical, incompetent or both. Make sure you check with the Bar in your state to make sure that this type of arrangement is acceptable.
In family law cases (mainly divorce cases) the prohibition against this type of fee is because the law wants to encourage couples to reconcile whenever possible. If a lawyer only got paid if her or she won a family law case, there would be a strong push against the couple getting back together.
In criminal cases, including DUIs, it is not always in the client’s best interest to go to trial. If the lawyer got paid only if he or she won the case, there is a chance that the lawyer would discourage the client from settling the case, even if settlement was in the client’s best interest.