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Questions to Ask When Hiring a New York DWI Lawyer

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in New York. DWI convictions can result in license suspension, heavy fines and jail time.

With all this at stake, you need to hire a New York DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Choosing the right attorney is very important. It’s up to you to decide if an attorney has the experience, approach and personal qualities you need to handle your DWI in New York. This article will describe the subjects you should discuss with an attorney before you make a hiring decision.

Attorney Experience with New York DWI

It’s very important to have an experienced and qualified New York DUI lawyer. Key questions about an attorney’s experience include:

  • How long have you been defending New York DWI clients?
  • How many clients have you had?
  • Do you know the judges, prosecutors and court staff who will handle my case?
  • Do you practice in other areas besides DWI in New York?
  • How many of your clients have been acquitted or had their cases dismissed?
  • Are you a member of the New York state and city bar associations and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers?

Management of a New York DWI Case

Much of your defense will happen outside of the courtroom. Your attorney and his staff will spend considerable time investigating, preparing and coordinating your case before you ever see a judge. Case management refers to how your case is handled by the law firm on a day-to-day basis.

Questions about case management include:

  • Can you take my case at this time?
  • Are you the lawyer who will defend me?
  • Will you be making the court appearances?
  • Who else will be working on my case?
  • What does each person do?
  • May I meet the staff who will be working on my case?
  • How will you keep me informed as my case moves ahead?
  • How can I contact you?

Legal Fees

A New York DUI lawyer usually charges by the hour. Some attorneys may charge a flat fee, or up-front payment, for handling more routine cases.

Regardless of the billing method, you need to understand how you will pay your attorney. Some important questions about legal fees are:

  • Which billing method do you use?
  • What is the flat fee or your hourly rate?
  • Are costs and expenses included, or do I pay them separately?
  • Do I need to pay a retainer fee before you start my defense?
  • What do you expect my total fee will be?

The Initial Consultation with a New York DUI Lawyer

All these questions, and any others you have, can be asked during your initial consultation. The consultation is a meeting between you and an attorney you may hire. There’s normally no cost, and it gives you the chance to interview the attorney, explain your case and learn about the legal process.

Make sure to prepare for your consultation. Write down your questions and have a way to take notes on your discussion.

When you have explained your case, the attorney may tell you how he plans to defend your DWI in New York. Although this legal strategy may change later, you should understand how your case would be defended. Be sure to find out:

  • How the attorney plans to defend your case
  • The possible outcomes and consequences of the approach
  • The strong and weak points of your case

Selecting a New York DUI Lawyer

Good New York DWI attorneys can be found from New Rochelle to Long Island. Your job is to select one of those attorneys who will represent you well and who makes you feel confident.

Refer back to your notes and review each attorney you’ve met. Ask yourself if:  

  • The attorney is knowledgeable, experienced and you trust him to defend you
  • You agreed and understood the suggested legal strategy
  • You can afford the legal fees
  • You feel comfortable with that attorney

If you can’t decide yet, you can contact the lawyer or lawyers you’re considering and ask additional questions or request client references. Many attorneys will let you, with consent, speak to former clients, so you can get a first-hand account of the attorney’s work.

Consider all the important qualities of a New York DWI attorney, make your decision and move forward with your case.