Choosing Qualified DUI Lawyers for the Case
A DUI can have an immediate impact on your day-to-day life. It can affect your driving privileges, your employment, and it may even mean possible jail time. As such, it is necessary to find out your options as soon as possible.
First, you must come up with a plan to tackle the daunting legal battle that comes with fighting a DUI arrest. This article discusses how to hire a DUI attorney and important things to consider when making your decision.
Public defender or private attorney
If your income is low enough you may qualify to have a public defender represent you. In many jurisdictions public defenders handle a lot of DUIs. They’ll know how the system works and how to get you the best deal possible given the facts of your case.
If you qualify for a public defender, try to find out what reputation the public defender’s office has in your jurisdiction. If it’s positive, the prosecutor may be more willing to negotiate a good deal.
If your income is too high to qualify for a public defender, you’ll need to hire a private attorney if you want representation. For the best chance of success, keep a few things in mind:
An attorney who handles DUI cases regularly is more likely to get you a good outcome than a generalist.
Make sure you find out up front how much your case is likely to cost, including factors that might increase the cost.
If possible, talk to at least 2 or 3 lawyers to find one you are comfortable with.
An initial consultation is often free, so you can see if the attorney is a good fit for you. Some attorneys do charge for the initial consultation but will apply the fee to the cost of your case if you hire them.
In many cases you won’t need an attorney for a first offense DUI. But if your case isn’t straightforward, an attorney may be able to get a better outcome for your case than you could alone.
When you hire a private DUI lawyer, it’s typically to represent you in DMV proceedings and criminal court. Having the same attorney work on both aspects of your case can lead to better outcomes, including a shorter license-suspension period.
Most defendants see the price as the major drawback with private lawyers. Hiring a private DUI lawyer will generally cost you between $1,000 and $5,000. If your case goes to trial, it can be even more expensive. (And there are cases where spending the money for a private lawyer won’t get you a more favorable outcome than had you gone with the public defender.)
However, hiring a private DUI attorney (assuming you can afford one) can be well worth it. Of course, when you’re retaining an attorney, you get to decide who that attorney will be. Attorneys who specialize in DUI cases often have an in-depth understanding of DUI law and defenses that other attorneys don’t have. In some cases, this expertise can lead to more satisfactory results—perhaps, a better plea bargain or dismissal of the charges altogether.
Having a private lawyer can also minimize the time you have to spend in court. In some areas, public defender clients must personally appear for all court dates. With private counsel, on the other hand, you usually won’t have to be present for routine court appearances. For many people, especially busy professionals, not having to miss work to come to court is a significant perk.
Another benefit of hiring an attorney is you’ll typically get more one-on-time than you would with a public lawyer. Most people feel more comfortable with their case when they get all their questions answered and concerns addressed.
Selecting a DUI attorney
Conduct Detailed Research About the DUI Lawyer
When you have to choose a DUI lawyer, then the most significant aspect is that you should research on your part. The smart approach is that you must prepare an excel sheet, and list down the details about the top DUI lawyers in the sheet. You can include the addresses, email, and phone numbers of the lawyers in the excel sheet. For example, you may list down the details about Vista DUI Attorney.
Get Hold of An Attorney with Experience
What you need to keep in mind is that you have little time to act when you get arrested for DUI. You need to hire an attorney who has significant experience related to DUI cases and DMV.
Some Key Questions For Your DUI Lawyer To Ask
- What Training as a DUI Specialist Do You Have? Ask if the lawyer is certified by any organizations such as the NCDD (National College for DUI Defense). Does the attorney have training from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in administering Standardized Field Sobriety Tests? An important part of your case may hinge on whether the police officer conducted your roadside tests correctly. Has the lawyer received training on using the breathalyzer machine? At your meeting, look for certificates for these and other DUI-related training, which should be hanging on the lawyer’s office wall.
- What is Your Experience in Representing DUI clients? How many years has the attorney been practicing DUI law and on how many cases in a typical year? What is the lawyer’s trial experience? Ask what percentage of the lawyer’s caseload is focused on DUIs—it should be close to 100%. A lawyer who specializes in DUI cases will be up to date on anything that has changed in DUI laws.
- Can You Tell Me About the Last DUI Case You Won, and How? Your lawyer should have a very recent local case that was successful. Ask when the attorney’s next case will be. DUI lawyers whose practice is devoted to DUI cases should be expected to have one or more DUI trials on their schedule within a week or so of your interview. Ask how often the lawyer takes cases to trial.
To help you make the right decision consider the following:
- Level of Comfort: You will want to select the attorney that you felt the most comfortable with since you will be speaking with him or her throughout the duration of your case.
- Good Communication Skills: You want to select the attorney that was best able to relate the information regarding your case in a manner that was easy to understand. Presentation is key in any legal case and the way the attorney communicated with you is a good indication of how he will communicate with the judge and jury.
- Confidence: The attorney’s confidence is also important. An attorney that seems ambivalent and does not have clear responses to your questions may not have as much experience as he says.
- Trust: It is difficult to know how trustworthy a person is after just one meeting. Client testimonials may help in this regard; however, beware of Yelp reviews or other online reviews by disgruntled clients as they may not be happy with the outcome of their case despite the attorney’s fair representation.