Top 5 Questions to Ask a DUI Lawyer
Following a drunken or drugged driving arrest, working with a DUI attorney can be the best way to potentially avoid criminal penalties as well as negative impacts on your driving privileges.
When hiring a DUI lawyer, you'll want to ask some basic questions -- for example, whether the attorney has experience with DUI cases. But aside from the basics, there are many other questions you may also want answered.
What should you ask? Here are five important questions for your DUI lawyer:
- What should I do about my driver's license? In addition to potential criminal penalties, a DUI arrest can affect your driving privileges, even prior to being convicted. Typically, preventing your driver's license from being suspended, or restoring driving privileges which have been revoked, requires administrative action. For example, in California, drivers cited for DUI must request a hearing from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of receipt of a suspension or revocation order.
- What factors might make my case worse? Criminal penalties for DUI may be increased by the presence of one or more aggravating factors. These factors can include: extremely high blood alcohol concentration, having children in the vehicle, having prior DUI convictions, or driving with excessive speed.
- Can I get a plea deal? In some cases, prosecutors may be willing to agree to a plea bargain in a DUI case in order to avoid the uncertainly, time, and expense of a criminal trial. The plea bargain typically allows a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge, or one of several criminal charges, and receive a lighter sentence than if convicted following a trial.
- If convicted of DUI, can I get the conviction expunged? Whether you are convicted following a trial or agree to a plea deal, it may be possible to have your conviction expunged, effectively hiding a DUI conviction from appearing on your record (but not preventing it from being used as a prior conviction if you're ever prosecuted for a subsequent DUI office). In some states, such as Florida, expungement is only available for DUI arrests which do not result in a conviction. In other states, expungement may only be possible following the completion of probation or additional court procedures.
- What is your fee arrangement? Before moving forward with your case, be sure that you understand the attorney fee agreement between you and your DUI attorney. This fee agreement should set out the services the lawyer will perform for you and the amounts that you will be expected to pay. The agreement should also be clear regarding when and how payments are to be made.
Learn more about DUI stops, arrests, and criminal charges at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on DUI Law.