Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is never a good idea but the truth is that every year, many licensed drivers in the United States get pulled over on suspicion of DUI. While it is always a good idea to take the necessary precautions before you head out on the road, it is even more prudent to take the right steps after you have been charged with DUI. These steps mostly relate with being informed about what happens after the DUI charge and how you can get yourself an experienced DUI lawyer to help you navigate through the complicated legal system.
Getting a DUI charge can have drastic and immediate changes on your life because it can restrict your driving privileges, your employment and maybe entail some jail time. This is why it becomes necessary to hire the right DUI lawyer immediately as he or she can make sure that the immediate impact of DUI charges is as minimal as possible. Keeping the following points in mind can help can hire the one attorney best suited for the job rather than hiring the first one you come across. Given below are some of the points you need to consider to be able to find the right DUI lawyer.
- Short listing DUI Lawyers: You may not have a lot of time after you have been charged with DUI to find the right lawyer. You should still take a little bit of time to research for the best lawyer for the job as that can pay off in the long-term. A good place to start this research is the National Associations and State Bar Associations to start preparing the potential list of lawyers to talk to.
Another starting point is seeking personal recommendations from people who may have gone through something like this before or trustworthy people with a connection of lawyers. In fact, if a friend of yours has been charged with a DUI and hired a lawyer for this purpose, this would be the most ideal point to start. Ask your friend all sorts of questions about their experience with this lawyer as well as their level of satisfaction with the outcome of their case.
If you have previously ever used an attorney for any other legal matter, you can also get in touch with them to refer a well-reputed DUI attorney from among their network of lawyers. For a lot of people, DUI is a source of personal and professional embarrassment and they may not want to reach out for help from people they know. In that case, the DUI Defense Associations and National Associations for Criminal Defense are suitable alternatives for your search. These organizations include The National College of DUI Defense, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) and the State Bar Association in your respective state.
- Short listing and Researching: Once your initial search is done, try to shorten your list to a handful of the most qualified attorneys and find out more about their experiences as well as their success in dealing with their clients. You should look out for almost all of the following qualifications and criteria when researching your shortlisted lawyers:
- Go to the website of the State Bar for your particular state and find out whether your lawyer is licensed to represent you in court or not.
- Whether the lawyer is locally based or not; local lawyers are familiar with the local courts, laws and prosecutors.
- Also make sure the attorney is in good standing with the State Bar of your state which means that the attorney has an ethical record and has never had a disciplinary action taken against them.
- The attorney should also not have been disbarred because they cannot represent you in court.
- While a lawyer with general criminal defense experience can handle DUI cases, it will be beneficial to focus your search specifically on lawyers specializing in DUI/DWI.
- You can find attorneys on LinkedIn as well with comprehensive knowledge about their practice as well as people who have written testimonials for their legal connections.
- Meeting with Potential DUI Lawyers: Once you have shortened your list of attorneys even further, based on the above mentioned criteria, you should start scheduling in-person meetings. This part is important because you need to hire a DUI lawyer with whom you are comfortable and whom you can confide in. When you meet with the lawyers, make sure you relate all facts of your DUI case especially everything that happened at the time you were pulled over by the police. Take all documents related to your DUI case with you including the police report and any notices from the DMV or the court. Ask questions from the DUI lawyer about their previous experience and how they would handle your specific case. Since the lawyers you are interviewing may bombard you with a lot of information, it may be a good idea to keep a pencil and paper with you to make notes. At the end of the day, you should be taking into account the lawyer’s communication skills, level of comfort, confidence and trust levels before you make your decision.
- Attorney Fees: One of the final and yet important aspects of your decision should of course be the fees that the attorney charges for their services. Before you make a commitment, have the attorney break down their fee structure based on how much they charge at what stage. Also find out about any other additional charges you may have to pay over and above the attorney fees. A lot of attorneys offer payment plans which can make it easier for the client to bear the cost of hiring legal representation.
The easiest possible way to find an attorney is through personal recommendations by people you trust or via your current attorney. If this option is not feasible then it is advisable to find out as much about potential DUI lawyers as possible. This will help you choose the right DUI lawyer who can help you wrap up your case in minimum time with as little impact on your life as possible.