Hiring the right DUI attorney is one of the most important steps you can take if you have been charged with driving under the influence. A skilled and experienced lawyer could make all the difference in the outcome of your case and your future. However, not all attorneys have the necessary expertise and track record to provide the strongest defence and advocacy on your behalf. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully evaluate your options and choose a DUI lawyer who can best represent your interests.
The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe and long-lasting in terms of criminal penalties, driver’s licence consequences, insurance rates, and personal reputation. An experienced DUI attorney understands the complexities of DUI law and defence strategies. They know how to analyse the evidence, identify opportunities to limit charges or penalties, and effectively negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. With so much on the line, a dedicated legal professional can be your ally as you navigate the challenges ahead.
This guide covers the essential steps you should take when evaluating and hiring a DUI lawyer. Doing your due diligence now can give you greater confidence and peace of mind as your case proceeds. With the right attorney by your side, you’ll know you have an advocate fighting for the most favourable outcome possible.
Check Their Experience
When hiring a DUI attorney, it’s crucial to consider their experience handling DUI and drunk driving cases. Specifically, look at the number of years they have been practising law and taking on DUI cases.
An experienced DUI lawyer will be familiar with all aspects of DUI charges, investigations, laws, and defence strategies. They’ll understand the complexities involved and know how to build the strongest defence. An attorney who is new to DUIs may not grasp the subtleties that can make or break your case.
During your consultation, ask the lawyer directly how long they’ve been handling DUI and DWI cases. An ideal candidate will have at least 5-10 years of specific experience with drunk driving defence. Their past casework should involve defending people against DUI charges, not just general criminal law. The more DUIs they’ve worked on over the years, the more insights they’ll have.
It’s not just the years of experience that matter but also the number of DUI cases handled. Ask the attorney approximately how many DUI defences they’ve been involved in. Those numbers indicate how familiar they are with various drunk driving situations. An attorney who has mounted defences in 500 cases brings deeper knowledge than one who’s handled 50.
Hire someone who has devoted their career to DUI law, not just dabbled in it occasionally. Their breadth of experience defends you best against the complexities of drunk driving charges. They’ll know how to thoroughly assess your case and build an airtight defence drawing on years of specialised DUI knowledge.
Understand Their Track Record
A DUI attorney’s track record will give you insight into their experience and success representing past clients. Specifically, look at metrics like their success rate and case dismissal numbers.
What percentage of their cases have they been able to get dismissed or reduced charges? The higher their case dismissal rate, the better. This indicates they have the skills to effectively argue your case and highlight weaknesses that could lead to dropped or reduced charges.
Make sure to ask how many DUI cases they’ve taken to trial as well. An attorney who has significant trial experience will be prepared to mount a strong defence in court if needed. Conversely, an attorney who pleads out most cases may lack the trial experience to get charges dismissed at trial.
Beyond success rates, look for an attorney who has gotten positive outcomes in complex cases similar to yours. For example, if there were aggravating factors like a high BAC level or an accident, find someone with a proven record winning tough cases.
Their track record is one of the best predictors of the quality of representation you’ll receive. So take time to thoroughly research and understand an attorney’s history of successes representing DUI clients. This will give you confidence they have the skills and experience to deliver results for you as well.
Review Their Credentials
When hiring any attorney, it’s important to closely review their credentials. This is especially true when selecting a DUI lawyer, as you want someone highly qualified in this specialised area of law.
Start by looking at where the attorneys went to law school and when they graduated. Top law schools like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford produce many exceptional lawyers. That said, don’t discount attorneys from less prestigious schools, as they may still be very skilled. The key is that the lawyer has a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited institution.
Next, look at what states the attorney is licensed to practice law in. For a DUI, you’ll want someone licensed in your state who is allowed to represent clients in court locally. Attorney licences can be verified through state bar associations. Also, confirm they don’t have any suspensions or disciplinary issues on their records.
Ideally, you want to find a DUI lawyer who is board-certified as a specialist in DUI defence. This means they’ve taken advanced DUI law classes and passed exams to prove their skills. Only about 1% of lawyers achieve board certification, so it demonstrates a higher level of expertise.
Checking credentials takes some research but is worth the effort. It helps verify your attorney has the proper qualifications and expertise to take on your DUI case. Retaining a lawyer with top credentials improves your chances of success.
Consider Their Specialisations
When looking for a DUI attorney, it’s crucial to find one who specialises specifically in DUI defence. Many criminal defence attorneys take on DUI cases, but you’ll want someone who focuses their practice primarily on drunk driving charges.
A DUI lawyer who specialises in DUI defence will be up-to-date on all the latest DUI laws, science, and defence strategies. They’ll know the ins and outs of field sobriety tests and breathalyser machines, and common errors police make when administering tests. An attorney who spends most of their time on DUI cases will know the prosecutors and judges very well, which can work to your advantage.
A specialist DUI attorney will have deep experience leveraging suppression hearings to get evidence thrown out due to improper procedures. They’ll be skilled at picking apart the prosecution’s arguments and raising doubt about the validity of blood alcohol tests. Their sole focus is defending DUI cases, so they’ll be ready to mount the strongest defence possible against your charges.
Going with a lawyer whose practice concentrates on drunk driving cases gives you the best chance at an acquittal or reduced charges. Make sure any attorney you consider has extensive hands-on expertise defending DUIs specifically. Their specialisation should be drunk driving defence and nothing else.
Discuss Payment Plans
When hiring a DUI attorney, it’s important to have an upfront discussion about their payment plans and fees. This will help ensure there are no surprises down the road.
Many DUI lawyers work on a retainer fee structure. This means you pay an upfront retainer fee that goes into the lawyer’s trust account. The lawyer then bills you periodically by withdrawing their hourly rate and expenses from this account.
The retainer fee amount can vary widely depending on factors like the lawyer’s experience, location, and the complexity of your case. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 or more. Be sure to ask if any portion of the retainer is refundable if it goes unused.
Beyond a retainer, find out what payment options the lawyer accepts. Most accept credit cards, checks, and cash. Some may allow payment plans where you pay in instalments over time.
Payment plans can help ease the financial burden, but make sure all payment terms are clear. You don’t want to end up still owing legal fees after your case concludes.
Also, ask if they charge extra fees for credit card payments. Some attorneys add on 2-3% processing fees which can add up over time.
Knowing the payment options and having a clear budget in mind for legal fees can help you make the best decision when hiring your DUI defence.
Evaluate Their Resources
A strong DUI defence requires leveraging key resources like expert witnesses and investigators. When evaluating a potential DUI lawyer, be sure to ask about the scope of resources they can utilise for your case.
Some key questions to ask:
– Do they have relationships with and access to quality expert witnesses? Expert testimony can be crucial for challenging things like breathalyser accuracy and establishing reasonable doubt around sobriety tests. Not all experts are created equal, so make sure yours has a proven record of success.
– What investigative resources can they leverage? Can they dispatch investigators to analyse key evidence and locations related to your case? A thorough investigation is critical to finding holes in the prosecution’s argument.
– How much in-house staff and support does their firm have? More resources dedicated to your specific case means deeper investigation and better preparation. Solo attorneys may be limited here.
– Do they use legal researchers? Quality legal research to uncover precedents and precedents can bolster your defence strategy. Make sure they have researchers fully committed to your case.
– How technology-enabled are they? Resources like case management software, document automation, e-discovery, and litigation support tools can all make a difference in DUI defence. See what they are utilising.
The quality of resources a DUI attorney has access to can profoundly impact your odds of success. Make this a priority during your evaluation process. Leveraging the right experts, investigators, researchers, and technologies can uncover the evidence and arguments needed to beat your charges. Don’t leave this to chance.
Assess Their Availability
When facing DUI charges, you want an attorney who can respond to you quickly and be available when you need them most. Time is of the essence in building your defence, so assess the lawyer’s availability before retaining them.
Consider the following:
How quickly does the lawyer return calls, emails, and messages? You don’t want to wait days to get a response. Look for a 24-48 hour maximum response time.
What are the lawyer’s office hours? Do they have availability for consultations on nights and weekends? Flexible hours are helpful when balancing a DUI case with work and family obligations.
Does the attorney take on a huge volume of cases? A packed caseload can lead to delays in communication and less focus on your case. Look for a balanced caseload.
Will the lawyer be available to represent you at all hearings, meetings, and the trial itself? Confirm they can make court appearances.
If the lawyer needs to travel for your case, do they have a plan to still be accessible? Out-of-town travel shouldn’t leave you stranded.
Fast response times, flexible hours, and consistent availability give you the support you need when facing DUI charges. Always confirm that an attorney can meet your availability needs.
Check Reviews and References
When researching potential DUI attorneys, one of the most telling signs of their reputation and track record is what past clients have to say. Look for reviews and testimonials on the attorney’s website, social media pages, and independent sites like Google, Yelp, and Avvo. Pay attention to how many reviews an attorney has and what clients say about their experience, results, and working relationship.
Some key things to look for in reviews:
– How many years of experience does the attorney have handling DUI cases? Do past clients mention their expertise and understanding of DUI laws? This is a good sign they regularly handle these cases.
– Do reviews describe the attorney as caring, compassionate, and committed to their clients? The attorney-client relationship is important, so make sure they treat clients with respect.
– Do past clients mention getting charges reduced or dismissed? Positive results are a good indicator that the attorney knows how to build a strong defence.
– Does the attorney clearly explain legal issues and defence options to clients? You want an attorney who communicates clearly.
– How responsive is the attorney according to reviews? It’s essential to have an attorney who is available and promptly handling your questions and cases.
– Do clients describe the attorney going above and beyond? The best attorneys take extra steps to help their clients.
In addition to online reviews, you can ask the attorney for direct client references to contact. Speaking to past clients can provide personalised insights into what it’s like working with that DUI attorney. Checking reviews and references helps verify the attorney’s reputation and experience defending DUI cases.
Hiring the right DUI attorney is crucial for achieving the best possible outcome for your case. By taking the time to thoroughly research and evaluate potential attorneys, you can find the one that is the best fit for you.
The key steps covered in this guide include:
– Checking their experience handling DUI cases, understanding how many years they have specifically focused on this area of law
– Reviewing their track record of case results to see their success rate at getting charges reduced or dismissed
– Confirming credentials like licences, education, and associations to verify their qualifications
– Considering any specialisations they may have within DUI defence or related fields that could benefit you
– Discussing payment plans and fees to find an attorney within your budget
– Evaluating resources like investigators, forensic experts, and legal staff to assess their capabilities
– Assessing availability to handle your case promptly as needed
– Checking client reviews and requesting references to hear directly from past clients
Taking this systematic approach will help you feel confident that the attorney you choose has the right skills, experience, and resources to build the strongest case for your particular situation. With an experienced DUI lawyer on your side, you can get through this challenging time and aim for the best possible outcome.