If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, it can be stressful. Ease some of your fears with some helpful insight from DUI attorneys here.
Every day, about 29 people in the US die in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s one death every 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, the cost of alcohol-related crashes reached over $44 billion in a year.
Alcohol-impaired crashes account for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the US, too.
If you or a loved one was recently charged with a DUI, it’s important to find a qualified lawyer for the case. Here are eight questions to ask DUI attorneys during your search. With these tips, you can vet your options.
You can find a criminal defense attorney with the experience and expertise you need.
Asking these questions can address some of your concerns before you pursue your case. Find a trustworthy lawyer with these tips today.
1. How Long Have You Practiced Law?
During your search for a criminal defense attorney, it’s important to find an experienced professional. Their previous experience can benefit your case. They’ll have a better understanding of the laws and procedures that are relevant to your lawsuit.
Learning more about the lawyer’s experience and background can tell you more about their abilities. You’ll have peace of mind choosing a lawyer with the hands-on experience you need.
If you’re charged with a DUI, you won’t want to choose a lawyer who just passed the bar exam. Instead, find someone who’s practiced law over the years. Try to find a lawyer who’s practiced law for at least a decade.
Choosing a more experienced attorney can increase your chances of a positive outcome.
2. How Long Have You Specialized in DUI Cases?
As you learn more about the lawyer’s background, it’s not enough to find a criminal defense attorney. Instead, find an attorney who specializes in DUI cases.
About 10,142 people died from drunk-driving crashes in a single year. Lawyers pursue DUI cases every single day. Finding an attorney with the relevant experience you need will give you peace of mind.
You’ll know they understand the legal process and have the resources necessary to pursue your case.
Ask the lawyer how long they’ve handled DUI cases. You can also ask how many DUI cases they handle every year. What percentage of their workload is devoted to DUIs?
Choose someone who primarily works on DUI cases. Otherwise, they might not have the know-how necessary to pursue your case.
Ask how often their cases go to trial, too.
See if the lawyer is familiar with the prosecutor on your case. You might benefit from their professional relationship. Your lawyer could use that relationship when negotiating a plea deal.
3. Is Your License Up-to-Date?
Make sure the lawyer you choose is licensed to practice in your area. Some laws can differ based on your location.
How long have they practiced locally? Check your local bar association website to make sure they’re licensed to practice in the state. If they’re not, keep searching.
You can also ask the attorney if they’re certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests.
If your lawyer is certified, they’ll know whether or not the arresting officer administered your tests correctly. If the test wasn’t properly administered, your lawyer could get the case thrown out.
You can also ask your lawyer if they:
- Went on a DUI ride-along with a police officer
- Are certified with any specific DUI organizations (such as The National College for DUI Defense, or NCDD)
- Have completed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Student and/or Instructor Standardized Field Sobriety Test courses
This specialized training will help them better understand DUI law and your situation.
4. Do You Have Courtroom Experience?
DUI attorneys should have plenty of experience handling cases in court. If you were charged with a DUI, you’ll need to prepare to stand before a judge and jury. Your criminal defense attorney should help you prepare.
Ask your lawyer if they have courtroom experience. How many of their DUI cases go to court?
Some lawyers are apprehensive about going to court. They might accept a plea deal to avoid a courtroom. These lawyers don’t have your best interests in mind.
Instead, choose DUI attorneys who can give you the best possible chance in a courtroom.
Ask the lawyers you interview how they’ll help you prepare. Your lawyer should have a legal strategy in mind. If they don’t, consider looking for another lawyer.
An attorney with a plan will know how to help you reach the best possible outcome for your case.
5. How Strong is Your Track Record?
Every lawyer will try to convince you that they’re the best choice available. You don’t have to take their word for it. Instead, ask the DUI attorneys on your list about their track record.
First, ask how many cases they handle every year. Then, ask about the outcome of those cases. How many of their clients had to spend time behind bars?
How many of their clients only had to pay a fine?
Learning more about the lawyer’s track record will help you better understand their abilities. You’ll want to have a winner by your side. If you find an attorney who struggles to help their clients, scratch them off your list.
Make sure the lawyer you speak with is the one who will handle the majority of your case. Many DUI attorneys work as a member of a team. The person you interview might not handle your case every step of the way.
Make sure the lawyer who handles your cases has years of experience. How much work will they hand off to an assistant attorney?
If the assistant attorney has less experience, they might make a mistake when handling your case. Ask if someone will supervise them every step of the way. Otherwise, look for a more qualified lawyer to handle your case.
6. Can You Provide References and Reviews?
Remember, the DUI attorneys you speak with will try to convince you they’re the best person for your case. Instead of believing them at face value, ask to speak with some of their recent clients. You can also ask them to provide you with reviews from previous clients.
Make sure to speak with clients who were once in your shoes. You can gain a better understanding of what they went through.
You can ask their previous clients:
- Were you satisfied with the outcome of your case?
- How did the lawyer handle themselves in court?
- Was the lawyer knowledgeable?
- Did the lawyer develop a strong legal strategy for your case?
- Did you experience any issues while working with the attorney?
- How were those problems resolved?
- Would you recommend I find another lawyer instead?
If the attorney can’t refer you to one of their previous clients, they might lack the experience you need. There’s a chance they’re trying to hide something, too.
Head online. Check the Martindale-Hubbel directory, Google My Business, and Better Business Bureau website. You can find reviews from previous clients on these sites.
Make sure to read a handful of reviews from different resources. You might find one or two negative reviews. That’s normal.
If you find an abundance of negative reviews, however, scratch that attorney off your list. Find someone with a strong professional reputation. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve chosen a lawyer other people trust.
7. What Outcome Do You Expect for My Case?
Schedule a consultation appointment with at least three DUI attorneys on your list. During your appointment, ask any lingering questions on your mind. For example, you can ask about:
- Their experience, training, and expertise
- What certifications they have
- Their most recent cases
- The outcome of their most recent cases
- Their contract and fee structure
Talk to the lawyer about the specifics of your case. What outcome do they expect for your case?
Don’t hire a lawyer who gives you guarantees. They can’t anticipate how your case will end. Instead, ask them what challenges they anticipate with your case.
Your lawyer shouldn’t hesitate to outline the potential challenges you’ll face. They’ll want you to walk into the courtroom with realistic expectations.
If they’re not real and transparent with you, scratch that lawyer off your list.
Ask the lawyer about their availability, too. How many cases are they currently handling? If they’re too busy to dedicate time to your case, they might rush through the process.
They could make costly mistakes with your case as a result.
8. What Fee Structure Do You Use?
Criminal lawyers make about $120,910 a year. During your consultation appointment, ask the lawyer about their fee structure. You’ll need to know how they intend on billing you right away.
Most DUI attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You should also ask:
- About their standard rate
- What additional fees you’ll need to pay
- What forms of payment they accept
Get an itemized list of all potential charges. You don’t want to encounter any surprises after they start working on your case.
Finding Representation: 8 Questions to Ask DUI Attorneys
If you’re charged with a DUI, don’t try to handle the situation alone. Instead, ask these eight questions as you speak with DUI attorneys in the area. These questions can help you vet your options.
You’ll also develop more realistic expectations regarding your case.
Need help with a DUI case? We’re here to help with your legal issues.
Contact us today to get started.