Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
Whether you were caught driving with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) or arrested for being too impaired by prescription drugs to safely operate a motor vehicle, driving under the influence (DUI) charges are taken very seriously by the court system. Penalties are generally two-fold: both criminal and administrative (you get your license taken away in addition to fines and a possible jail sentence). But you don’t have to go through the process alone. A good DUI lawyer will be able to help you understand the law, the facts of your case, and any potential defenses that may be available to you.
If you aren’t familiar with how to hire a qualified lawyer, here is a good place to start. Below you will find potential questions to ask your DUI lawyer at your first meeting. Don’t feel pressured to hire the first lawyer you meet. Instead, shop around and compare. Always be sure to look up your prospective DUI lawyer on your state bar association’s website.
One of the most important sets of questions to ask your attorney concerns their background. For example, is this her first case or is she a DUI veteran? Obviously, the more experienced the attorney, the higher the possibility for a better outcome. Here are a few questions to ask your DUI lawyer:
- How long have you been representing DUI clients? How many DUI cases do you handle in a year?
- Are you a former DUI prosecutor? (Many times former prosecutors open their own criminal defense practice).
- What percentage of your caseload is devoted to DUIs?
- How often to you take cases to trial?
- Are you familiar with the prosecutor in my case? Do you normally practice in my county?
- How many cases have you been able to successfully plea bargain down to a “wet reckless” or outright dismissal?
Many times a DUI attorney will have specialized training or an advanced certification in DUI law. You might ask:
- Have you ever been on a DUI ride-along with a police officer?
- Are you certified by any DUI organizations such as the The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) or similar state bar organization? Some states, such as Arizona, have a program where attorneys can get certified as a “DUI specialist” if they pass certain tests.
- Have you completed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) Student and/or Instructor Standardized Field Sobriety Test courses?
Right away, you’ll want to know how your DUI attorney will be billing you. Now is the time to ask about payment options and how often, and under what circumstances, you will be billed. Most DUI lawyers offer a free initial consultation, but be sure to clarify payment terms before your first meeting. You may also want to ask the following:
- In addition to your standard rate, are there any extra fees I will be required to pay, such as expert witness fees, blood sample re-testing, etc?
- What forms of payment do you accept? (Some lawyers now offer peer-to-peer payment services such as PayPal, Google Wallet, VenMo, or Square Cash.)
DUI lawyers, like all attorneys, don’t possess a magic crystal ball. While a DUI lawyer can’t guarantee case outcomes, they can predict possibilities based upon the unique facts of your case and their own training and experience with DUI law. Be sure to ask you DUI lawyer these questions:
- Is a plea agreement a possibility? How about any motions such as a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence?
- Which factors work in my favor and which work against me?
- Should we go to trial?
Get Legal Help with Your DUI Case
Facing a DUI is a very unsettling experience. For most people, it's their first, and hopefully only, contact with the criminal justice system. Knowing which questions to ask a DUI lawyer will help you decide which legal professional you should hire. If you've been charged with a DUI, contact a local DUI lawyer today and start preparing your defense to the charges.