If you have been charged with an alcohol related driving offence, you are likely wondering how much it costs to hire a good Ottawa impaired driving lawyer. The main questions people charged with drinking and driving offences have about cost are:

1. How much will it cost to properly defend the case?

2. How can I be certain about the legal costs?

3. How can I afford a trial?

The long-term costs of a drinking and driving conviction will outweigh the legal costs necessary to properly defend your case.  Your first priority should be hiring the right lawyer for your case. The following answers will help you find a cost effective lawyer for your case.

1. How much will it cost to properly defend the case?

The cost of defending your case will depend on a number of factors:

• The number of days of trial required. (Impaired driving trials usually last 1 to 2 days.)

• The complexity and number of Charter motions needed to exclude evidence.

• The amount of disclosure in your case (e.g., the number of witnesses, expert reports, etc.).

• The amount of time the lawyer will devote to your case.

• Whether hiring a private investigator, a toxicologist, or another expert is necessary.

• Whether there are unexpected motions, such as a motion to dismiss that case for unreasonable delay, or a motion to obtain disclosure.

After an initial meeting a lawyer should be able to give you a general idea as to cost.  After a full review of the Crown’s disclosure, a lawyer can then provide you with a comprehensive estimate of fees or a block fee quote.

2. How can I be certain about the legal costs?

Written retainer agreements are a good way to ensure that you know the services your lawyer will be providing for a given fee.  A retainer agreement may set out, for example:

• The cost of the trial, as well as the costs of unexpected additional days of trial.

• The nature of the Charter motions the lawyer will bring to exclude evidence.

• The cost of hiring an expert witness or private investigator.

A written retainer agreement allows you to plan ahead financially and may allow for a payment schedule.

Flat-rate/block-fees are often appropriate in drinking and driving cases, and can provide you with cost certainty. You should be cautious, however, if a lawyer quotes a block-fee to you without first reviewing the evidence to determine the complexity of your case and the amount of work which will be required to provide a proper defence.

3. How can I afford a trial?

No one plans to be criminally charged. Properly defending your charges will affect the rest of your life.  Here are some tips to make sure you can afford the best lawyer for your case:

• Do not assume you cannot afford a good lawyer. Talk with the lawyer to discuss a payment schedule.  Discuss ways to efficiently spend your resources.  Most good criminal lawyers will develop a financial plan with you because they want to ensure people have a strong defence.

• Invest in your defence. Using your line of credit or credit card is a wise investment.   The cost of a criminal record and a lengthy driving prohibition will outweigh the cost of a good defence.

• Ask for help. Speak to family members and friends about your situation.

• There is time to raise money. An impaired driving trial usually happens 8 to 12 months after the date of the charge, giving clients time to raise funds.