Guide to Traffic Lawyer Cost: What is the Average Cost of a Traffic Lawyer in Virginia?

average cost of traffic lawyer

average cost of traffic lawyer

Many potential clients want to know the traffic lawyer cost, “what is your fee?” The average cost of a traffic lawyer in Virginia will depend on a number of different factors. Are you dealing with a specialized traffic firm, or a law firm that does traffic work on the side? How much experience does the firm have in traffic law? Does the law firm send associate attorneys (new lawyers) to the court, or does the partner whose name is on the firm letterhead actually go to court? What is the Virginia traffic charge?

In Virginia, there is a HUGE difference between reckless driving by speed (criminal misdemeanor, carries up to a year in jail even for 11 mph over) versus a simple speeding ticket (maximum fine of $250, no potential jail or license suspension by the judge). There is a HUGE difference between a single vehicle accident, and an accident where someone died.

Any conversation about traffic lawyer cost will naturally revolve around the expected time a particular case may take. Every Virginia lawyer will bill you for their time. If you call a law firm, and they quote a really low fee, it just means they aren’t going to put time into your case. EVERY lawyer bills for their time. So you have a right to question high fees as well as low fees. Someone who bills TOO HIGH, is probably acting as a contractor and is paying someone else to do the case in court. Someone who charges fees that are TOO LOW, is almost certainly not putting any time or effort into your case. Most non-complicated traffic cases (speeding, reckless driving) take between 2-5 hours from start to finish. DUI cases and high speed reckless driving, or accident cases take longer, so you should expect the traffic lawyer cost will be higher for these cases.

If you want a high quality traffic lawyer to represent you in court, they are going to spend enough time on your case that your case demands. That may vary based on:

  • where you got a traffic ticket or charge
    • some locations run a fast docket and the expected time spent in court is less
    • some locations the prosecutor gets involved and in others they don’t
      • this can be good or bad depending on the case
  • the nature of your case, how complex it is
    • even a little speeding ticket can be very complex if it deals with asserting a legal defense
      • contested trials always take more time
    • how bad the driving record is… bad driving records complicate matters
    • how bad the charge is… higher speed cases are inherently more complicated

The bottom line is that traffic lawyer cost should be directly tied to the expected amount of time that your attorney expects to spend on your case. You can bring the traffic lawyer cost down by not spending time on the case (having a new lawyer handle the case in court, letting a secretary deal with the client) BUT YOU CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT SACRIFICING QUALITY.

Traffic Lawyer Cost: Important Factors that Determine Fees

What level of service and experience are you getting? This can be boiled down into one word: quality. Hallmarks of a quality traffic lawyer in Virginia:

  • specializes in Virginia traffic law
    • knows Virginia traffic laws
    • knows defenses to Virginia traffic laws
    • knows what the police officer/prosecutor has to prove for each case
    • knows all relevant case law for traffic cases
  • personally handles each case in court
    • does not hire associate lawyers who actually go to court
    • knows the judges in each location
    • knows the prosecutors in each location
    • knows the officers in each location
    • has a great reputation in each location and court
  • Never been disciplined by the Virginia State Bar
  • prepares for each case BEFORE the court date
  • has at least 5 years of personal experience in traffic court
    • knows all of the regular judges AND the substitute judges
    • knows how to value a case, and what to expect for every case and every unique situation
  • personal attention to each case
    • do you have direct access to the attorney who is handling your case
      • the legal assistant, paralegal, case manager, or associate attorney may be nice to talk to on the phone, but you need to talk to the actual lawyer who will be handling your case in court
    • can you email, text, call your attorney
    • do you know 100 percent who the attorney going to court for you will be
    • are you communicating with the actual ATTORNEY, or staff

The primary determining factors for quality representation in traffic court are WHO is going to court, HOW long have they been specializing in traffic court, DO they have an excellent reputation with the court, and DO you have personal communication with the actual attorney who is handling your case in court? Traffic lawyer cost is going to be related directly to WHO is handling your case in court, and how long they intend to spend on your case.

Leavitt & Martin consists 100 percent in Daniel Leavitt & Corey Martin.  We maintain a 100 percent 5 star rating by former clients across all review platforms. We personally handle our cases in court, and we strive to provide the best representation, service, and quality. We know how to prepare each case for court, and we make sure our clients have the information necessary to get the best outcome possible.

Average Traffic Lawyer Cost is Directly Related to the Time Spent on the Case

The average cost of a traffic lawyer should be tied to the expected time that that lawyer spends handling the case from start to finish. Most non complex traffic matters will take 2-5 hours in court. You can find out the average billable hour rate among lawyers in a geographical area and get an idea of an expected range. Complex cases, and more serious cases, take more time to handle from start to finish and you should expect to pay a higher fee if you want quality representation. Factors that add complexity to a case:

  • the charge is more serious
    • misdemeanor reckless driving carries up to a year in jail, up to a $2500 fine and up to a 6 month license suspension, so even for 81 mph in a 70 it will cost more than simple speeding
    • traffic infractions are less severe and are not misdemeanors charges, they are not criminal
  • bad driving record
  • accident cases are more serious
  • DUI cases or cases involving drugs or alcohol and driving
  • bad facts that make the case more serious
    • this could mean endangerment (weaving, tailgating, swerving)
    • driving record that is not clean
    • higher speed tickets (generally 20 mph or more is starting to get up there on speed)
    • argued with the police officer, had a bad interaction with the officer
  • multiple charges
  • contested cases take more time
  • are you in state or out of state

Attorney rates vary based on location. Lawyers in Northern Virginia tend to bill more than lawyers in the Richmond area. It makes sense. The cost of living in Northern Virginia, and the cost to operate a law practice is higher in Northern Virginia than in Richmond.

Every lawyer bills for their time. So if you see a quote that is really low, it means they are not actually putting any time into your case. Conversely, if you see a that is too high, it is possible the attorney is acting like a general contractor and then paying someone else to handle your case in court. Some lawyers charge higher fees but then pay other lawyers to go to court.

Make sure that your attorney promises to handle your case in court, and is not passing your case off to someone else. Some attorneys use clever marketing language like “trusted team of traffic lawyers” and such. You need to be careful that whoever you hire promises to personally handle your case in court.

Average Cost for Criminal Defense Lawyer

average cost of traffic and criminal defense lawyer

Criminal cases are often more time intensive than traffic cases. More serious or more time intensive cases will factor into the fee as will the location of the criminal charges. In criminal cases, the cost for a good criminal defense attorney will often depend on the number of charges, whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies, and whether or not the case is expected to plead out or go to trial. Contested trials always cost more because they take more time. In addition, jury trials always cost more because they take more time.

Once you’ve decided to hire an attorney, you might still have a few questions. Primarily, how much does it cost for a criminal defense lawyer? The cost of hiring a traffic and criminal defense attorney varies depending on several factors. However, a good lawyer with plenty of experience and a solid track record will usually cost a bit more upfront. In the long run, though, you’ll likely save thousands of dollars.

Important Factors to Consider

hiring a traffic defense lawyer

When determining how much to charge a potential client, many criminal defense attorneys consider a series of factors, including:

  • The time and labor required in preparing the case;
  • The severity and number of the charges involved;
  • Whether the potential client has a prior criminal history;
  • Whether it will be necessary to interview experts and witnesses;
  • The likelihood of the case going to trial;
  • Whether the defendant is currently in jail;
  • The case’s complexity, including the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
  • The skills required to perform the legal services required; and
  • Fee customarily charged in the area for similar services.

Based on an analysis of these factors, an attorney will be able to estimate how much time will be spent in preparing the case.

Case Preparation

Depending on the complexity of a case, preparation could require some or all of the following activities:

  • Interviewing the client as well as witnesses;
  • Reviewing the facts of the case;
  • Analyzing the evidence;
  • Researching relevant case law;
  • Preparing and filing motions; and
  • Appearing in court.

A person charged with a single misdemeanor can expect to pay an attorney much less than someone who has multiple felonies pending. Felonies carry greater penalties, require more preparation, and often demand repeat court appearances. However, most cases fall somewhere between these two categories. Misdemeanor DUI charges often go hand in hand with other minor traffic violations. For this reason, someone with a DUI charge can expect to pay more than someone charged with a single misdemeanor traffic violation. Still, their fees will not be as high as those of someone accused of a violent felony.

Finally, it may be tempting to hire an attorney based on cost alone. This isn’t always the best idea. Remember, you get what you pay for. That goes for legal service as well.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Arrested for or charged with a criminal offense? Please contact Leavitt & Martin today. Call (804) 873-4004 or contact us online. Our office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, we understand that our clients lead a busy life and so make ourselves available 24 hours a day to answer your questions or concerns. We’re also more than happy to arrange a consultation during the evening or on a weekend.

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