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Cost and Other Considerations When Hiring a Driver’s License Reinstatement Attorney

Jennifer Wirth Attorney at Law

Our office focuses exclusively on representing suspended and revoked Illinois drivers at license reinstatement hearings with the Secretary of State. With over two decades of experience, Attorney Jennifer Wirth has helped thousands of suspended and revoked drivers get back on the road with a valid driver’s license. Over 95 percent of clients obtain driving privileges on their first hearing with our office.

When retaining a driver’s license reinstatement attorney, many potential clients worry about the cost of legal services. Depending on the reason for suspension or revocation, the cost of legal services can range from hundreds to a few thousand dollars. It obviously costs less to vacate an old traffic ticket than it does to reinstate a license after a DUI or reckless homicide charge. In all cases, attorney fees must be reasonable, while considering the time required to effectively represent the client, the difficulty of the case, and the attorney’s level of experience in a specific area of law. 

A revoked driver should consult with multiple license reinstatement lawyers to get a sense of the market rate for their specific case. During consultations, clients may be quoted rates that are under or over the general market range for a service. Clients should be wary of extremely low rates and ask detailed questions about what is included in the fee. Likewise, a lawyer that quotes an extraordinarily high rate isn’t necessarily among the best in their field. Even the best lawyers are ethically obligated to have reasonable fees – a high-ranking attorney can’t quote a million dollars to represent a client on a speeding ticket without ethical implications.

The Flat-Rate System

Many driver’s license attorneys offer flat rates for driver’s license reinstatement representation. A “flat rate” can mean many things, depending on the context. Some license revocation attorneys may offer a single fee for all work required for one hearing, while another attorney may charge a flat rate for unlimited hearings until some form of driving privileges are obtained. Other attorneys may charge a flat rate until full licensing is obtained.

For instance, our office provides a flat-rate fee quote for our legal services during our free consultation. We do not charge per hearing, but instead, per result. With a few exceptions, our flat rate includes legal representation until some form of driving privileges are received by the client, which can be in the form of a permit or reinstatement. A client’s eligibility can affect the ultimate form of driving relief, as well as the Secretary of State’s discretion to issue a permit as a probationary device in lieu of full reinstatement.

Our flat-rate fee quote includes all the work we do on a case, such as ordering records, filing for the hearing, preparing questions, editing documents, testimony reviews with clients, and representation at the ultimate hearing. We do not delegate work to our client. Our clients should be focused on their evaluation, completion of any necessary treatment, and their testimony. They should not be burdened with obtaining records, filing the case, or reviewing the Secretary of State standards for evaluations or other documents.  

Finally, our flat rate protects clients from paying additional legal fees if they have lost their case after cooperating with the representation and following our advice. Although our office has a high success rate, no lawyer can ethically guarantee the outcome of a case. Our flat fee ensures that we stand by our clients through the process of obtaining some form of driving privileges so long as their conduct did not prevent a successful hearing, such as failure to disclose a DUI. All terms for the flat rate are outlined in our written engagement agreement to avoid any confusion.

Clients should make an attorney clearly outline what a flat rate includes and excludes prior to retention. Here are a few sample questions that a revoked driver may want to ask of a driver’s license reinstatement lawyer:

Will you personally be present on my hearing date or do you employ coverage attorneys and/or associates?

How many meetings will we have prior to my hearing?

Will you be preparing me for the hearing or is this task delegated to another person in your office?

Do you review my evaluation, treatment records and other documents prior to the day of my hearing?

How long does it take for you to respond to calls and/or emails?

How many years of experience do you have with driver’s license reinstatement cases?

Do you practice in other areas of law or is license reinstatement your only area of practice?

Do I owe you more money for another hearing if I am denied by the Secretary of State?

During the consultation, a client should also consider whether their personality is a good fit for their own. License reinstatement hearings involve communicating extensively with an attorney about your past, which may include painful or difficult events. If a client finds it hard to discuss these topics with that specific attorney, they should look for an experienced attorney that makes them feel more comfortable during discussions.

Method of Payment

In the modern world, most lawyers should be willing to accept many forms of payment. Often, legal fees are unexpected and are considered a major expense to most people. With this reality in mind, a lawyer may offer many payment options to try to accommodate a client’s particular situation.

For instance, our office offers many forms of payment, such as all major credit cards, Zelle, checks, money orders, in-person cash payments, as well as payment plans through Affirm. To learn more about payment plans through Affirm, please click here.

Prior to retention, a client should ask what forms of payment are accepted and understand when payment is due. Further, if an attorney takes credit cards, the client should be clear as to whether they will pay merchant processing fees or if the attorney covers this cost. In cases of financing through Affirm or another agency, the client should be clear with the loan company about the terms of payment.  

Do I Need an Attorney for My License Reinstatement Hearing?

It is a personal decision on whether a client hires a driver’s license reinstatement attorney. However, Secretary of State hearings are adversarial legal proceedings and the evidence presented at your prior hearing(s) can be used against you at future hearings. In a formal hearing setting, the State has a hearing officer and an attorney present. It is always a good idea to bring qualified counsel to present evidence, ask relevant questions, and to protect your overall legal interests.

We have had many clients who tried to attend a hearing on their own and were denied in the past. We handle cases after denial, but a denial typically increases the cost to defend at the next hearing. A review of the prior hearing record can be time-consuming, and it takes experience to effectively combat a denial order at a future hearing.

We would also caution clients against any claim by a treatment provider that they can prepare them for a hearing. A treatment provider may be excellent at treatment, but that does not give them any legal knowledge or experience. Without a law license, a treatment provider would not be allowed to advocate for a client in a hearing or partake in questioning. A provider may be familiar with reasons for denial, but they are not trained advocates or lawyers for hearings themselves.   

The best defense is a strong offense, which means attending the hearing with an attorney that is experienced at handling driver’s license reinstatement proceedings. Although a low fee or shortcut may appear attractive, the truth is that a denial often costs more money in the long run. A denial can incur the cost of additional evaluations, treatment, or further legal fees to correct a case.   

How Do I Choose the Best License Reinstatement Attorney?

It is advisable to consult with multiple driver’s license reinstatement attorneys before deciding to hire a particular attorney. Clients should be particularly critical of the amount of experience that the attorney has with license revocation hearings, as well as if the attorney focuses their practice on driver’s license reinstatement.

We strongly encourage prospective clients to read the reviews of each attorney on Google and Avvo. If an attorney claims to have experience in this field, look at older reviews to ensure their clients are reviewing legal services for driver’s license reinstatement, rather than some other form of practice, such as estates, divorce, etc. If an attorney has consistently been representing revoked drivers, older reviews should reflect their long-term commitment to this area of practice.

Finally, all clients should recognize that law is a customer service industry. It is possible to find an experienced license reinstatement attorney that is kind, respectful, and responsive to your concerns. A client shouldn’t be afraid to call their lawyer or ask them questions. A good attorney can also be a good person. An attorney doesn’t need to be adversarial with clients to be effective advocates in legal proceedings.

For a free consultation on license reinstatement, please feel free to call our office at (312) 761-8290 or email us directly at jennifer@wirthlaw.org.

No content on this site should be construed as legal advice nor does this site create an attorney-client relationship. A person should consult with a qualified attorney before making any legal decisions.

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