Drinking and driving is no light matter. It severely endangers your wellbeing and that of everyone else on the road.
Whether you were “only going a few blocks down the road” or you didn’t even stop and think about how inebriated you were, all it takes is one mistake to change the course of your whole life.
If you’ve recently been pulled over and charged with a DUI, you need to get a lawyer. If this isn’t your first criminal offense, or even worse, not your first DUI case, you need the best DUI lawyer you can find on your side.
Here are the top 10 things to look for before choosing your defense attorney.
1. Deep Knowledge of DUI Cases
You wouldn’t hire a doctor who just got their license to do surgery on you, right? In the same way, it’s not a good idea to hire a rookie lawyer to take on your DUI case. You need someone who knows how these things go and who is knowledgeable about the kinds of charges you’re facing.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean any experienced attorney is definitely a good DUI attorney. A family lawyer or worker’s compensation attorney can’t defend your case as well as a DUI attorney can, no matter how long they’ve been a legal professional.
2. Experience in the Courtroom
Not all DUI charges go to court, so it’s good to know that your attorney is comfortable being in the courtroom if that’s the plan of action you want to take.
This completely changes the course of your case. You need someone who’s able to negotiate well in private and come out swinging in the courtroom. Otherwise, your chances of the charges getting dropped are slim.
Ask them about the last time they took a case to trial and how often their work is in the courtroom, too. The more experience an attorney has with this, the better.
3. A Strong Success Rate
Keep in mind that an attorney can’t discuss specific details about their cases. But, they can tell you their overall success rate. It’s not the best look for a lawyer to have a lot of experience in the courtroom if their success rate is low.
You need to know you’re in good hands when your court date comes. You do this by assessing the likelihood that your lawyer can win.
Of course, there are a lot of other factors that will play into the final decision. But as far as finding a DUI attorney goes, your chances of succeeding are better when you know you’ve found someone who knows how to come out on top in the courtroom.
4. Great Reviews
It’s one thing for a DUI attorney to talk about their experience and success and another for you to understand what the client experience is like. Make sure you read the reviews of a few DUI attornies before making your final choice.
Reviews give you an in-depth look at what you can expect while working with one DUI attorney versus another. They help you understand everything from a lawyer’s professionalism and work ethic to the kind of outcome you’re likely to have with them.
Keep in mind that every client’s situation is different and not all DUI charges are the same. But, it’s still good to get a feel for what you’re getting yourself into with the different DUI lawyers available in your area. Reviews help you narrow down your search once you start looking for lawyers via resources like USAttorneys.
5. Compassion and Understanding
Just as you need to find an attorney who understands the court of law and defending DUI cases, it’s equally important to get a lawyer who understands you. You need to establish some sort of connection with the person handling your case. It’s not like you’ll become best friends, but there should be a healthy level of trust and understanding in your professional relationship.
Your lawyer should genuinely want the best outcome for you. They shouldn’t be thinking of your case as another paycheck for them or just another stupid drinking and driving mistake. As bad of a decision as it is to drink and drive, you should feel no judgment from your lawyer.
In simple terms, you need to know they’re on your side, 100%.
6. Good Communication
You may feel great about the connection you make with a DUI lawyer during a consultation but aren’t sure how the conversation will continue from there. The best thing you can do is ask.
You see, some lawyers work in teams on one case or they have assistants/interns handle their consultations. This can complicate the communication process and make it hard for you to get straight answers and guidance from your legal team.
As such, the best thing to do is make your “legal team” a small circle. It should be you and your lawyer primarily working on the case together, with outside help as needed.
You need to be fully confident that you’re able to reach him/her during business hours and get reasonable responses from them. It’s not like they’ll be on call 24/7, but you shouldn’t have to wait for days at a time to get a callback or an email response either.
Sometimes, it’s possible to end up talking in circles with one person. Even if the DUI attorney you choose doesn’t have a team of people that will make you jump through hoops, you shouldn’t get the go-around from them, either.
The best attorneys know how to give it to you straight. They’ll be honest and reasonable in the expectations they set and the progress of your case as things advance.
There should be no beating around the bush, and more importantly, no guarantees. Remember that the final outcome comes down to the judge and jury, so it shows lack of professionalism for a DUI attorney to try and give you an absolute answer like saying they can help you win your case for sure.
8. Multiple Options and Strategies
A big part of winning your DUI case is creating a good strategy. “Winning” doesn’t always mean that you’ll come out of the courtroom clean of any charges filed against you. It could be that your sentence and/or fine gets lowered, or that you have an alternative correction program to go through like traffic school or community service.
All these possibilities depend on the severity of your DUI case and the consequences that came from you drinking and driving. But, they also depend on what kind of negotiations and pleas your attorney can come up with.
Make sure you discuss the strategies available to you during your consultation. There’s a lot more to a case than saying that you’re innocent or taking the fall and pleading guilty. When it comes time to setting your sentence – or walking away from one altogether – you need to know your lawyer has a plan.
9. The Ability to Simplify Complicated Topics
The thing about negotiations and pleas is that they can easily get complicated from an average person’s perspective. It’s not like everyone knows common court terms and the possible charges they face when walking into a DUI case.
To be sure you have a good grip of what’s going on and what your options are, you need a lawyer who can simplify the complicated. They should be able to explain all sides of the situation at hand and do so in a patient, friendly manner. Your lawyer should know how to balance between being a person of guidance and counsel and being a little more strict with you.
10. A Fair Price
The final thing to consider before moving forward with a DUI lawyer is how much they plan to charge you. The standard best practice that most legal professionals follow is not to give their clients a fee until after the case is won.
If the case is lost, there is no fee or a small fee, which should be agreed upon before your work together begins. The payment expectations should also be pre-determined in the event that a case gets won.
This keeps you from falling into the unfortunate scams that are out there in the legal system. Not all lawyers are the most trustworthy, fair individuals, which is pretty ironic considering their work. Still, you need to protect yourself and your finances by being sure that you can trust whomever you choose and their payment process.
Find the Best DUI Lawyer for You
You can read about what to look for in a DUI lawyer all day long, but you still need to put the tips above to use and actually find the defense professional that’s right for you.
If you received your DUI while out of state, for example, you need to find the best DUI lawyer in that area, not your home state.
Click here to get your search started.