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Study: Hiring a DWI lawyer pays for itself in lower insurance

A New York DWI can be costly. Besides the potential jail time and driver's license suspension, a conviction means a substantial fine, even for a first offense. Next, tack on the mandatory surcharge and crime victims' assistance fee. You could also be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device -- at your own cost. When you've completed your punishment, you have to pay to get your license reinstated.

Those are just the direct costs of a DWI conviction. That doesn't count the increase in your insurance premiums. The average increase in your insurance rate is $4,000 over a five year period. With all that on the line, can you afford to hire a defense lawyer?

You can't afford not to. It turns out, as we expected, that the cost of hiring a quality defense attorney is well worth it. In fact, it may pay for itself by limiting the increase in your insurance rate.

The folks at the insurance cost comparison website QuoteWizard tested the theory. They considered data on insurance rates, examined conviction statistics and talked with defense attorneys and concluded that hiring a lawyer saves the average defendant enough in insurance increases to pay for the cost of that lawyer. Plus, a large majority of people with attorneys get better outcomes.

Here's what QuoteWizard found:

  • People convicted of DWI pay, on average, $830 more annually for auto insurance than people with clean driving records.

  • A DWI conviction raises your insurance rates much more than a negligent or reckless driving charge. A DWI increases those rates by an average of $1,460 more over a three-year period than the lesser charges.

  • People who hire private defense lawyers are three times more likely to have their DWI charge reduced than those who do not.

If you get pulled over for drunk driving, panicking won't help. Now you know one thing that does help -- hiring a lawyer.

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