Things to Know About Hiring a DUI Lawyer
If the police have recently arrested you for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you know you need an attorney. But if you've never hired an attorney before, you may be overwhelmed at the amount of information you need to learn. This article will boil down the most important things to know about hiring a DUI lawyer.
Before hiring just anyone, you should set up appointments to interview a DUI lawyer or two. Most DUI attorneys are willing to chat with you briefly to get to know you and your case. This where you can:
- Learn about the attorneys' background and experience
- Discuss your legal options and possible strategy
- Find out about their legal fees
- Most importantly, decide whether you want to hire one of them
To get the names of a some worthy candidates, canvas your friends, family members, and business colleagues to see if they have ever worked with a DUI lawyer. If they have, find out what they thought of the experience, their attorneys' strengths and weaknesses, and if they'd rehire them if they needed a DUI lawyer again.
If you're reluctant to discuss your DUI arrest with people you know, we can help. Attorneys.com offers a service that can connect you to a DUI defense attorney in your area. Call us at 1-877-913-7222 or fill out the short form on this website to start the process.
After answering a few questions, we'll forward the name and contact information for at least one DUI lawyer in your area. You may call the lawyer directly, or he or she will get back to you within two business days.
Evaluating a DUI Lawyer
Some lawyers only represent clients charged with DUIs. (Depending on your state, DUI may also be known as driving while intoxicated, or DWI, operating while intoxicated, or OWI, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OVI.) You want to find a criminal defense attorney who has represented clients facing similar charges to your own.
It's also to your benefit that your lawyer have a good reputation in the legal community and be familiar with the courthouse personnel where your case will be heard. If the attorney has worked before with the prosecutor in your case, that can also help you, too.
Options & Strategies
When you have your first meetings with DUI lawyers, you'll want their opinions about your legal options. You could plead guilty, try to negotiate a plea agreement, or take your chances at trial. Discuss the consequences of each option.
If the police officers used field sobriety tests, an alcohol breathalyzer or witness testimony, you may have some DUI defenses. Possible strategies are unique to each set of circumstances. The lawyers you meet with will be able to speak to your situation.
How much a DUI lawyer charges is sure to be one of your main concerns. Generally, DUI/DWI attorneys use one of two billing methods: The hourly fee or the flat fee. They work just like they sound, either charging you for your lawyer's time by the hour or at one single price.
However, not everything is included in these rates. You will likely pay for many related, legal expenses, such as photocopying, an investigator's fees, the use of a paralegal, and court fees. Make sure you are clear on what the fees include. Also get an estimate as to how much the other expenses may add up to.
Legal fees can be negotiable, but only before you hire an attorney. Once you have hired a DUI/DWI lawyer, it is too late to change the fees or fee structure.
Also ask what forms of payment are acceptable and if they offer any payment plans.
You may be working with your DUI/DWI attorney for several months. So you want someone who deserves your trust and confidence. Beyond how the attorney looks on paper, note during your first meetings whether you are comfortable with the attorneys. Are they patient with your questions? Do they explain new, legal concepts to you? Do you trust their advice and judgment?
Choosing a DUI Attorney
When you are done meeting with all the DUI lawyers on your list, it is time to choose one. Use the criteria above-experience, strategy, legal fees, and how you felt with each-to help you narrow the field.
If you are torn between two or more, ask them for the names and contact information for several previous clients. Call them and find out what it was really like for a client to work with these attorneys. Find out if the attorneys fought hard for their clients and whether they'd hire them again.
Once you have found the very best DUI/DWI attorney for you, hire him or her so that you can face the rest of the judicial process represented by legal counsel.