A charge of driving under the influence is always an ordeal. But you can significantly reduce the stress associated with such charges by hiring a lawyer to represent you in your case. Though, finding the right lawyer is not always easy. You need to sift through many candidates to find someone suited to represent you.
Yet, this can be incredibly difficult if you do not know what to look for in a lawyer. Before learning what questions to ask a lawyer about DUI, you must know what to look for in a DUI defense lawyer. Here are some tips.
What to Look for in a DUI Lawyer
There are plenty of DUI lawyers in every state. So how do you know which one is a good fit for your case for driving under the influence? Frankly, you may not know unless you have hired lawyers before.
That is why we are here to help you understand what qualities make a good lawyer. Some examples include:
They are knowledgeable
DUI law is complex and incredibly intricate. If someone attempts to protect you from a conviction without the appropriate level of knowledge, they will likely fail. When considering DUI lawyers to represent you in your case, consider whether they have enough knowledge of the field to perform adequately throughout the process.
While knowledge can be hard to measure without an explicit understanding of DUI law, you can glean someone’s knowledge level by asking fundamental questions about the criminal defense process for DUI cases. If they struggle to answer, you know you need to move on to another law firm.
Ideally, you can find a lawyer who routinely participates in relevant conferences, engages in continuing their education, and is a member of associations. You can ask them if they do these things. Just make sure they do not lie to you to win your business.
They have experience
Knowing the number of DUI cases a lawyer has litigated can go a good way when identifying whether they are a good fit for your case. There are some aspects of DUI law that you can only learn about through hands-on experience. Someone with little background in fighting such cases will not have the experience to protect your rights appropriately.
Usually, a DUI lawyer's website will contain information regarding their history and success rate with DUI cases.
Always verify that the lawyer you are considering has significant experience negotiating plea deals and, if necessary, taking cases to court. These are two very distinct skill sets, so you must find someone with experience in both. If you choose one or the other, you limit your potential outcomes substantially. Ideally, you can find a lawyer with a strong background in winning desirable results through both methods.
They are skilled communicators
Many people do not see communication as a skill. Instead, they assume that everyone has the same ability to read, write, and speak. Yet, communication is indeed a skill that every person must master—especially a lawyer.
Knowing how to communicate effectively not only allows a lawyer to navigate negotiations and litigation more effectively, but it also allows them to provide you with the information you need to stay well informed about your case. This can give a certain level of comfort that makes the entire process of fighting a DUI less stressful.
You may have never thought of this, but good listening skills can also be imperative when fighting a DUI case. If your lawyer does not properly hear what you are saying, they may misrepresent the facts of the case. Similarly, not listening properly can result in them taking the wrong approach to defending you. Never underestimate the value of solid communication skills for DUI lawyers.
They offer privacy and confidentiality
Privacy and confidentiality are critically important in DUI cases. When fighting a claim, you need confidence that you can divulge any information to your lawyer without fear that they will share that information with others. While all lawyers take an oath of confidentiality, not all uphold it. Some share relevant information with outside parties unintentionally and sometimes intentionally. This can lessen your chances of winning a case, so you must avoid it.
Find someone who guarantees they will not share anything you say unless sharing it will improve your chances of victory. You need this level of confidentiality. Without it, you put your freedom and financial security at significant risk.
They are devoted to providing you with a reasonable outcome
It's never good to hire a lawyer that does not care about you. If you do, they will prioritize their profits over getting you a reasonable outcome in your case. DUI cases are also sensitive, so someone who doesn't care about you can quickly put your case on the back burner if another opportunity arises.
Don't let this happen. Find a lawyer who cares about your success. Finding someone like this will ensure that you have someone on your side willing to do everything they can to get you the lightest sentence available. In the best-case scenario, they will convince the court to dismiss your case. If you choose someone who doesn't care, you risk penalties that a more caring lawyer may have avoided.
Another reason to find a devoted lawyer is that they won't just give up when the prosecution offers a moderately agreeable plea bargain. They will fight to get you the best outcome rather than a good outcome. While this trait is hard to measure without first working with someone, you can determine whether this quality is present in them after a short time. If things don't look good, move on to another lawyer who cares more about your case.
They are flexible with payment requirements
Lawyers are not free, except in rare cases. You will need to pay for any services rendered, but these payments are not always required upfront. This is good because many people charged with DUIs do not have the funds needed to pay off their lawyers all at once. You should not lose the opportunity to obtain skilled legal representation just because you aren’t rich.
You need to find a lawyer with fair and equitable billing practices. They should also have reasonable fees that you can afford. But you get what you pay for. That isn't to say that the most expensive lawyers are the best—often, you'll find that the most caring, compassionate, and skilled lawyers offer reasonable fees that allow them to retain clients.
They are completely honest and transparent
Nobody likes when people lie to them. Do not trust a lawyer who does not offer honest answers to all of your questions. There are plenty of shady lawyers in every market. That's why you need to focus partially on weeding the dishonest ones out. The best way to do this is to ask about your case's best and worst possible outcomes. If they sugarcoat their answers, you know not to trust them with your case.
Otherwise, they may lead you down a path that offers results you did not expect. Even if those results were unavoidable, you deserve to know what is happening with your case at all times.
Understanding what penalties are on the table is an essential part of this. Although it may seem like your role in the case is minimal when you hire a lawyer, their dishonesty may lead to you receiving a worse deal than you deserve.
Rather than trust an untrustworthy attorney, seek a DUI lawyer who will tell you the hard truth. This will allow you to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best outcome and beat a DUI.
What Questions to Ask a Lawyer About DUI
Now that you know what qualities you desire in a DUI lawyer, you need questions to ask when interviewing candidates for your case:
Is DUI law common in your practice?
Only choose experienced DUI defense lawyers. Because this realm of law is very complicated, you do not want to choose someone with little experience in the field. Determine whether they have experience in that legal area, then, if they don't, find a lawyer who does. Working with someone who does not have enough experience will hurt your case.
How long have you been practicing DUI law?
For example, if someone has handled personal injury law for a decade, then switches to DUI law, they may have significant legal experience in general but minimal DUI experience.
You need someone with a long DUI defense history to guarantee a minimal sentence. Otherwise, your lawyer can easily make a mistake that a more experienced DUI lawyer might have avoided.
Are you usually successful when defending DUI offenders?
You need a winner if you expect to win your DUI case. Someone who constantly fails at getting desirable outcomes for their clients should not be trusted. By asking about their success rate, you can determine if they frequently win good deals for their clients. Whether they do so via plea bargains or court litigation should also affect who you choose.
If you think your case has enough strength to result in a dismissal or minimal sentence without a plea deal, you need someone who has succeeded in getting those results. Find out what they are good at, then go with the lawyer who fits your needs.
How can you help me win my case?
This is a big question. If you expect to win your case, you need a lawyer who knows what steps they will take to fight the prosecution. Ask them this question in an open-ended way, then see what they say. If they have a range of solutions, ask for specifics about each. Their answers will help you determine whether they have the experience to bring your case to a desirable conclusion.
Will your office schedule fit my schedule?
If you still need to work during the day, your schedule may not work with the lawyer's schedule. Ensure that your schedule aligns with your lawyer's. Many lawyers have weekend office hours when you can see them, so ask.
Start Interviewing DUI Lawyers Today
Talk to several lawyers before choosing one. Ask them a variety of questions, such as the ones listed above.
Some other good questions to ask include:
- Do you have an understanding of alcohol toxicology?
- Do you have adequate support staff?
- How much do your services cost?
If they give answers that comfort you, you may want to work with them. If they do not answer appropriately, move on to the next candidate. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.