Things to Know When Hiring a Florida DUI DWI Lawyer
If police have recently arrested you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol you may need a Florida DUI lawyer. There are a lot of details to know about the hiring process. This article can help shorten the learning curve.
According to Florida DUI laws, the penalties for a DUI conviction include:
- A fine of between $500 and $4,000
- Mandatory community service
- Prison time
- Treatment in a residential substance abuse program
- Impoundment of your vehicle
- Revocation of your Florida driver's license for at least 180 days
- Completion of Florida DUI school
With so much at stake, you should not try to represent yourself. But you don't want just any lawyer either. It's important to find the best Florida DUI lawyer for your case.
Finding a Florida DUI Lawyer
To get the names of some prospective lawyers, ask your friends, family members, and work associates whether they have ever hired a Florida DUI attorney. If they have, you'll want to know what they thought of their attorneys. What were their strengths and weaknesses? Did they get the results they wanted? Would they hire the lawyer again if needed?
If you'd prefer not to discuss your arrest with people you know, or if you just need another name to round out your list, we can help. Whether you are in Miami, Tampa, Key West, Pensacola or elsewhere in Florida, Attorneys.com offers a service that can connect you with a Florida DUI lawyer near you.
To start the process, dial 1-877-913-7222 or complete the short form on this website. Answer a few questions, and then we'll forward the name and contact information for at least one Florida DUI attorney in your area.
Feel free to contact the attorney yourself, or he or she will call you within two business days.
Interviewing a Florida DUI Attorney
It's best to find a lawyer who has represented clients who faced similar charges of driving under the influence. (DUIs can also be called driving while intoxicated, or DWI in Florida, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, OWI, or operating under the influence, OUIs.
It's also helpful for you to have a lawyer who knows personnel at the courthouse where your case will be heard. If your attorney knows the prosecutor in your case, even better. Find out at the first meetings how often the attorneys have appeared in the same courthouse to which your case is assigned.
Florida DWI Options & Strategies
Unless your attorney can get the charges against you dropped, you are facing three options: plead guilty, try to negotiate a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge, or plead not guilty and go to trial. Each option has its consequences. Be sure to get feedback about each choice from the lawyers with whom you meet.
Strategy for handling DUIs will be unique to each case. For example, the Florida attorneys may have some DUI defenses if the police officers based their arrest on field sobriety tests, an alcohol breathalyzer, or witness testimony. After hearing about the evidence against you, the attorneys will likely have some thoughts to share.
You are probably curious how much a Florida DUI lawyer costs. Generally, DUI lawyers use one of two billing methods to bill for their time: either an hourly fee or a flat fee. They work pretty much as they sound, i.e., charging a client by the hour or for one single price.
However, you'll end up paying for much more than just a lawyer's time. You will have other, related legal expenses to pay, such as use of a paralegal, photocopying, an investigator's fee, travel expenses, and court fees. Ask the attorneys you meet with to estimate how much you might pay in both legal fees and expenses.
Legal fees among Florida DUI lawyers can be competitive. However, with possible charges pending against you, you may not have the luxury of time to compare prices. Some lawyers may be receptive to lowering their fees, but you must inquire about this beforehand at the first interview. After you have hired an attorney, it is too late to renegotiate legal fees.
The Subjective Pros & Cons
Beyond a lawyer's qualifications, you need to monitor how you feel with each Florida DWI lawyer you interview. Notice whether the lawyers are patient with you and your questions. Are you confident in the advice they offer? Are you comfortable with them? Can you see yourself working side-by-side with any of them for several months?
Choosing a Florida DUI Lawyer
When you wrap up the interviews with all the Florida DUI lawyers on your list, it's time to select one to represent you. Think back to the criteria discussed in this article: experience, strategy, legal fees, and subjective qualities. How do the attorneys measure up?
If you only meet with one Florida DWI attorney but feel he or she is more than qualified, your decision is an easy one. If you cannot decide between two or more, ask them for the names and contact information for a couple of previous clients.
Call the clients to find out what it was really like to work with their attorneys. Did they put on a strong defense? Did their strategies work? Could they recommend them to a loved one?
Once you have identified the very best Florida DUI lawyer, hire him or her. You can now face the rest of the judicial process represented by an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer.