Post Updated on 3.22.17
You went out over the weekend and had just a little too much to drink. Unfortunately, you also made the decision to get behind your wheel and drive home. You were stopped, arrested, and are now facing a DUI charge that could cost you your job as well as massive fines and a license suspension. Fighting this on your own should not even be a thought, because you are going to need the best expert local DUI attorney to help you out of this mess.
First, are you actually guilty of the charges? This is important because it will affect the strategy of your lawyer. Is he or she just trying to limit the damage or get the charges dismissed outright? You would be surprised how many “innocent” people are convicted simply because they are not aware of how a courtroom or legal system works in DUI cases.
If you are guilty and there is evidence, such as a field test or breathalyzer, against you, it is time to find an attorney that is experienced and trustworthy. This person literally holds your future in his or her hands, so you need to be able to trust them.
How to Find the Best DUI Attorney for Your DUI Arrest
Being arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, is a very serious thing and can have a lasting effect on the offender’s life for many years. Since the consequences of this type of conviction are serious and the penalties imposed on the convicted are harsh, it is important to retain the expert advice of an experienced DUI attorney. Having this type of legal counsel will ensure your case is tried fairly and may even help to have the charges reduced or even dismissed.
Evaluating Your Case
Even if you plan on pleading guilty to the charges, it is important to seek out an experienced DUI attorney to at least review your case before you go to court. The attorney will be able to look at the arrest record, review the laws in the state in which you were arrested, and determine if any of your rights were violated. After reviewing the case in depth, the lawyer will be able to let you know what the possible outcomes of the case could be, and whether you should plead out, or fight the charges in court.
What to Look for in a Good Attorney
Not every lawyer is well-versed or experienced in all areas of the law. This is why it is important to find a good lawyer who specializes in DUI or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) cases. They will often have a wealth of knowledge on the DUI laws in your state, understand the DUI arrest process as well as how the state views DUI offenders and the punishments they will face. When researching DUI attorneys to try your case, there are some attributes you should look for:
- Experience: A good DUI attorney will have a track record of successful DUI cases as well as happy clients. A reputable attorney will make these records available to you to review because they are confident in the results they provide. You can use a number of online lawyer review websites and/or social media to read past client testimonies.
- Bar Association Status: A reputable attorney will be in good standing with the local bar association, a professional body of lawyers in the area that proceeds over all local lawyers and monitors their practices. If they do not have a good rapport with the local bar, walk away and look for other representation – this is definitely a red flag of a bad attorney.
- Good Listening Skills: You want to make sure the legal professional you are working with is truly listening to what you would like to see out of your trial. Make sure the attorney understands your situation, your fears about the case, and what your desired outcome. No lawyer should continue to push a client to take a plea bargain when they have already stated they do not want to – this is a sign that they are not listening to what you want. Remember – your are hiring a lawyer to work for you and protect your rights in a court of law, so make sure that person is truly working for you.
- Ample Support Staff: Every good lawyer has a team of support staff members helping him or her keep their cases organized and on track. If the attorney you are interviewing is working alone, it could be a red flag that they will be easily overwhelmed with the details of your case or they do not have a very big client base to keep themselves and staff members busy.
- Realistic Expectations: A good lawyer will keep you informed of the possible outcomes of the case, without sugar-coating what you may expect. Some lawyers will make unrealistic expectations in order to be hired and then during the case not deliver what was promised. A reputable attorney will not make any unrealistic promises about the outcome of the case or what they will be able to do for you when it comes to your DUI conviction. It is, however, his or her job to inform you of all possible courses and the realistic outcome of each one.
Questions to Ask Potential Attorneys
You should never hire the first attorney you find in the phone book or online for your DUI or DWI case. It is always a best practice to interview a number of different DUI attorneys to find one that is not only a good fit for you but also best suited to try your case in court. It is important to make sure you are asking the right questions in order to find the right match and be confident you are hiring a professional with the right skill set and experience to represent you properly in court.
Some questions you can consider asking include:
- Background Questions
- Where/when did you attend law school?
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What bar associations/professional organizations do you belong to?
- How long have you been specializing in DUI/DWI cases?
- What amount of your current caseload are DUI/DWI cases?
- How many clients have you helped with DUI/DWI cases?
- Have you had experience with the prosecutor trying my case?
- How many cases/how often do you take DUI/DWI cases to trial?
- Do you recommend plea bargains as a standard practice?
- How familiar are you with the DUI laws in this state/state where arrest/conviction took place?
- Case Assessment/Management Questions
- What is your initial assessment of my case?
- What factors of the case will/will not work in my favor?
- Were my rights violated during my DUI arrest?
- Would you recommend I plead guilty? Why?
- Would you recommend a plea deal? Why?
- What should I expect from the different phases of the trial process?
- How many times must I appear in court?
- Will the arresting officer be present during the DUI trial?
- Are you available to represent me for this case?
- Will you be in court representing me or will someone else be present?
- Who will help you work on my case?
- When I have questions, who should I call?
- When/will I receive regular updates on the status of my case?
- Payment/Fee Questions
- Will you bill me by the hour or as one flat rate?
- What is/is not included in your fee?
- What services do you offer that are considered an extra charge?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- What additional legal expenses will I have to pay aside from your fee?
- Will you charge me before or after the case goes to trial?
- Will I be charged if my case is not won?
These questions will uncover a lot about the attorney, his or her experience, and how the practice works. When you ask three or four professionals the same set of questions it will be easy to compare them and choose one that is best suited to represented you in court during DUI case. Being confident that you will be fairly and strongly represented in court can often help to not only secure better outcomes but also ease your anxiety and fear during the DUI trial process.
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Post Updated on 3.22.17
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.