How do I choose a DUI lawyer?
Choosing the right DUI attorney for your case is not only a difficult task, but an intensely personal one as well. It is the first step in trying to minimize the impact that a mistake like a DUI can have on your present and future. But there are some helpful tips in order to maximize your chances of finding the right DUI attorney for your case.
1. Do they handle DUIs?
This may seem very basic, but it’s of critical importance to make sure that not only does your lawyer “handle DUIs” — but handles a lot of them — often — and skillfully. The rule of thumb I suggest is this: if your lawyer doesn’t devote at least 50 percent or more (preferably 80 percent) of his or her practice to DUI defense — keep shopping. If DUI is his or her forte, he or she is more likely to be up to date on the law, be willing, ready, and able to fight tooth and nail if need be, and are very likely familiar with any nuances of the area your case happened in. Which brings me to…
2. Do they work in your area?
Almost as important as knowing DUI practice is knowing the ins and outs of the particular jurisdiction your case is in. A Tacoma lawyer, for instance, might not be the best choice for an Everett DUI. Knowing the court staff and the prosecutors will help make your experience smoother and more seamless, as your attorney will know how to navigate the system and negotiate your case earlier, and hopefully, more successfully.
3. Are they current on DUI Law?
DUI Law is the most complex area of law in the realm of criminal defense. There are more moving parts to a DUI than almost any other type of case, and in some instances, the law of DUI (or the administrative system with Department of Licensing) is changing nearly daily. Is the lawyer you’re considering a member of any DUI organizations? National College for DUI Defense? Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers? Is he or she writing articles or giving lectures to other lawyers? Making sure that your lawyer is on the cutting edge of the law will help him or her and you get those nuanced arguments in front of a judge, and hopefully get great results.
4. Is it the right fit for you?
Pricing isn’t a factor here. Expensive or inexpensive — unless you believe your attorney is fighting for you — and listening to you — you won’t be satisfied. You need to know you’re being heard and communicated with the way you deserve. Take advantage of free consultations. Ask friends and family for referrals — but go meet with the lawyer and his or her staff. Will they return your calls? Will they allow email communication? Is there an after hours option in emergency situations? Unless you truly feel that the lawyer cares about you and your case, steer clear. Only with caring, compassion and heart, will you feel your lawyers are truly doing their best to represent you on your DUI.
When it comes to choosing the best lawyer to defend your DUI charge these are some credentials to look for and consider.
1) National College of DUI Defense:College Members represent the most experienced DUI Defense attorneys in the county. The National College of DUI Defense is an invite only non-profit organization aimed at improving the criminal defense bar and to educating the public about DUI defense law as a specialty area of law practice.
2) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Certification:DUI defense lawyers that have participated in this training are certified to administer and interpret the standard filed sobriety tests to NHTSA standards. Less than 1% of practicing attorneys have received this specialized training. The NHTSA program is the exact same program that law enforcement officers take. The certification takes 21 classroom hours to obtain and encompasses in depth training on the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, Walk and Turn Test and the One Leg Stand Test.
3) Science of Breath Testing Course Certificate:DUI defense attorneys that have participated in this course have spent time working with the equipment law enforcement uses to administer breath tests on drivers suspected of DUI. If your lawyer has participated in this training then they have an advanced knowledge of how breath test machines work, what faults the machines have, what maintenance the machines require and what protocols an officer must follow to correctly administer the test.
4) American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys:Members of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys have received advanced level training on the strategies that win the most DUI cases at trial and are also used to get DUI cases successfully resolved for the defense prior to trial. Members of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys also have access to the resources and tools that are used to win and successfully resolve DUI cases. The resources and tools AAPDA members have, only a very small percentage of DUI attorneys have access to and use including law enforcement manuals, testing protocols and validation studies.
5) National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 Trial Lawyers:The top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended only to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state or region who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile measured by objective and uniformly applied standards.
6) Superlawyers Designation:Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public.
Why You Need a DUI Lawyer
A DUI arrest is a serious matter. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, there’s a good chance you’ll face jail time, have your license suspended, and/or pay hefty fines – not to mention the potential hardships you may encounter at work, with your future career prospects, and personal relationships. In addition, if someone died as a result of your drunk driving, you will potentially have to deal with severe psychological issues as well. While some legal matters may be handled alone, a DUI arrest warrants the legal advice of a qualified DUI attorney or someone who knows how to handle the intricacies of your DUI case. And not just any criminal defense attorney will do. Because DUI laws are highly centralized and specific, DUI cases are best handled by experienced DUI attorneys or someone with specialized knowledge in this area, including knowledge of traffic laws, motor vehicle laws, and ignition interlock devices, for example.
Moreover, a good DUI attorney may challenge certain aspects of your DUI charge based on his or her specialized knowledge of breathalyzers, blood test, and chemical testing procedures. Therefore, you need a good DUI lawyer who can help guide you through the often confusing word of DUI.
Is The Lawyer A Fighter
It is also important to know whether the DUI Lawyer you are considering has the background, experience and reputation to properly handle your case. The reality is that most DUI cases are resolved without a trial. This can involve a plea bargain with the District Attorney or a plea to the Judge with an indicated sentence. A favorable plea bargain can result in beneficial resolution of your case including dismissal of or reduction of charges and favorable terms of probation. A skilled DUI Lawyer who has a reputation of excellence is more likely to obtain a favorable result than an attorney who has never tried a jury trial or litigated a motion before the court. If your case cannot be resolved with a favorable plea bargain then you need a Law Firm that’s not afraid to answer ready for trial and that will be prepared to provide you with the best possible defense. A great DUI trial lawyer must understand the forensics of alcohol and the devices which were used to test your alcohol level. They must understand how to challenge police field sobriety tests. An experienced DUI trial lawyer must also understand the laws of human nature and be able to relate the important themes of your case to a jury who will listen.
What to Look for in a DUI Lawyer
Qualified DUI lawyers handle a variety of cases involving DUI arrests, DWI, and other drunk driving-related offenses. When looking for a DUI lawyer, you should concentrate on the lawyer’s expertise, skill level, commitment, and location or area served. For example, an experienced DUI attorney may help:
- reduce or eliminate jail time;
- eliminate a revoked license;
- reduce your DUI charge to a lesser offense, and/or
- avoid trial with a plea bargain.
Also, it’s important that the attorney you hire has the necessary skill level and is the one who actually conducts most of the work on your case.