It is vital that you hire a DUI lawyer as soon as possible after being charged, so they can help prepare you for the DMV Administrative Hearing and also the criminal charges.
When looking for a DUI Lawyer, you should speak with several attorneys. The first consultation is usually free. In this initial meeting you should not be afraid to ask questions.
To help you start the conversation, here are 11 questions to ask your potential lawyer:
How many years have you been practicing law?
This provides you with an understanding of the lawyer’s experience.
How many years have you specialized in DUI defenses? What percentage of your cases involve DUI?
A lawyer can be in practice for many years and not have represented a DUI client or only does does so occasionally. You want someone who has courtroom experience in DUI defenses.
How many DUI jury trials have you conducted?
The more DUI cases the lawyer has represented the better.
What is your track record in having DUI charges dropped or reduced?
This is an important question since it would be preferable not to go to trial to defend the DUI charge because of the risk and the expense. A DUI jury trial takes about 25 hours of court time, plus additional time for trial preparation.
How many guilty and not guilty verdicts have you had?
A lawyer with an excellent “not guilty” verdict record does not mean they will win your case. But it does bode well if the lawyer has a positive track record.
How many DUI cases have you handled that are similar to my case?
Every situation can be different, so it is possible the lawyer may not have handled a case just like yours. But, it is preferable if the lawyer has represented cases similar to yours. If the attorney is experienced, he/she will know how to handle the case.
What are the key concerns you have with my situation?
It is important to know before you hire the lawyer that you know what concerns they may have that could affect the court verdict, and how they will approach your defense and the suspension of your license.
What do you think the likely outcome of my case will be?
An experienced DUI attorney will not be able to guarantee a specific outcome, but they should have a learned opinion on what to expect in your case and what is important. Usually, the chemical test and how that result will be attacked is the most critical factor (or a refusal to take a test, which arguably shows a consciousness of guilt)
Who in your office will be handling my case and how will you communicate with me?
You should know who on the lawyer’s team will be working on your case and what experience they have in preparing and defending DUI charges. You should ask if the attorney you are talking with will make the appearance in court. You must also know who will be the primary point of contact and how often you should expect to interact directly with your lawyer.
What is the potential cost of my defense?
A DUI Defense can be expensive depending on the complexity of the case and whether it goes to trial. A good DUI defense lawyer should provide you with a reasonable estimated fee given your circumstances. You should be leery of a lawyer who quotes you fees that you consider low. This is also why it is important to interview more than one lawyer. The attorney should prepare a written fee agreement, specifying the exact fees (and costs, if any, such as a forensic expert). Your lawyer needs to be totally honest with you and you also need to be totally honest with your lawyer. Don’t be afraid to tell them everything regarding the situation and circumstances leading up to and after the arrest. What you tell the lawyer is protected under attorney-client privilege, which means what you say can’t be used against you in any proceeding.