Things to Consider When Hiring DUI Lawyers
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, or DUI, of drugs or alcohol, you need an attorney. But you shouldn't hire just any attorney; you need the best one you can find. You do that by interviewing a few DUI lawyers to determine the right one for you.
Most DUI lawyers are willing to meet with you to introduce themselves, learn a little about your case, and offer you some suggestions. You won't have unlimited time with these attorneys, so you will have a lot to accomplish and consider in a small amount of time.
This article can make the most of those first meetings and direct you to the best DUI lawyer to represent you in court.
After getting the name of a DUI lawyer or two, call them to set up a first meeting. They may have a questionnaire for you to fill out about your arrest. If they do, complete it and send it back ahead of your meeting.
The first meeting is the perfect place to:
- Learn about an attorney's background and experience with defending clients against DUI charges
- Discuss your options and possible strategies
- Determine whether this is the DUI lawyer you want to hire
Evaluating DUI Lawyers
Lawyers who practice criminal defense defend against a wide range of accusations. It's better if you can find someone who has specific experience representing clients facing charges of DUI (also known as driving while intoxicated, or DWI, operating under the influence, or OUI, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated, OVI, in some states). Many lawyers focus most of their practice in just this area alone.
To find out if a criminal defense lawyer has the kind of experience you need, consider asking:
- How long has the attorney practiced criminal law?
- How long has the attorney defended clients against DUI DWI charges?
- What percentage of the attorney's cases result in DUI acquittals and what percentage end up with DUI convictions?
- How often does the attorney appear at the courthouse where your case will be heard?
- Does the attorney know the prosecuting attorney in your case? Have they worked opposite each other in previous cases? If asked to describe the DUI attorney, what would the prosecutor say?
- If the attorney handles other kinds of criminal law cases, what percentage of the workload is devoted to DUI cases?
A DUI lawyer with a good reputation among opposing lawyers and other courthouse personnel will only benefit you. Look for a DUI DWI attorney with a good working knowledge of the players behind the scenes and in the courtroom.
Before you can discuss strategy, the DUI DWI lawyers you meet with will need to know the circumstances of your arrest. When you meet, don't just jump in with your version of the facts but let the attorney lead the conversation. Listen carefully to the questions and answer them precisely.
Unless the attorney sees a way to get the charges against you dropped, you are facing three choices:
- Plead guilty
- Try to get a plea agreement
- Take your case to trial
Discuss these options with the DUI DWI lawyers you meet, and the consequences of each.
Any strategy the lawyers propose for you will be unique to your situation and cannot be generalized here. As the lawyers discuss various ways to handle your predicament, ask yourself if they make sense, if they sound reasonable and if you're comfortable with the suggestions.
Most of all, ask yourself if the strategy is likely to get the results you want.
DUI Lawyers' Legal Fees
If the police have recently arrested you and charged you with DUI, you don't have time to conduct an exhaustive search for a lawyer. Still, you need to understand how DUI lawyers charge for their time.
Most DUI DWI attorneys use one of two billing methods: Either they charge an hourly fee or a flat fee. These work just the way they sound. A lawyer who charges an hourly fee bills you for the actual time he or she spends on your case. A lawyer who wants a flat rate has one price for the legal representation offered.
Not all legal services are included in these fees. You are likely to have a whole host of related legal expenses. Ask the DUI lawyers you meet to detail what their fees include. Ask for an estimate of how much you might pay in related legal expenses as well.
Rates among DUI lawyers tend to be competitive and may be open for slight negotiation. However, any changes you want in the fee structure must be discussed before you hire your lawyer. After you have hired a lawyer, you cannot renegotiate the fees.
Trust, Confidence & Judgment
Besides the nuts and bolts of a DUI lawyer's experience and how much it costs to hire him or her, there's a whole other dimension to finding the perfect lawyer for you. That is in how you feel about a lawyer. You may be working side-by-side with this attorney for a while, so you want to be able to put your full trust and confidence in him or her.
Here are a few questions that get at the more subjective qualities in a DUI lawyer:
- Is the lawyer patient with my questions?
- Does the lawyer take time to explain foreign concepts?
- Do I feel all of the questions have been answered?
- Am I satisfied with the answers?
- Do I feel comfortable with this attorney?
If this is your first time facing the criminal justice system, you need an especially patient lawyer. The law can seem like a whole new language. And even if this is not your first time facing charges, you need a lawyer in whom you can place your confidence.
To determine whether you have found the right DUI lawyer for yourself, consider whether the attorneys you meet have the experience you need, charge legal fees that seem fair, and are trustworthy. When you have found a lawyer that meets all your expectations, you have found the best DUI DWI lawyer for your case.
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