After you have been charged with a DUI, it can be difficult to figure out what your next steps should be. You need to find a lawyer to help you with your case, but it can be a challenge to know how to distinguish a good lawyer from a bad one. People often settle for the first person they call, or a lawyer that seems like the least expensive option, without realizing that they should be talking to multiple attorneys in their area before deciding on who they want to represent them in court.
It is important to be aware that your first conversation with a lawyer should not be the only one you have with them before hiring them for your case. It should be more like an interview, which you can use to determine whether this person has the experience necessary to help you. There are many topics you should go over with a prospective lawyer before you decide who to hire for your case. Below are ten of the most important questions you should ask in your first conversation with a DUI attorney.
What is your experience with DUI cases?
If a lawyer does not regularly work with DUI cases, they might not be as familiar with the nuances of the law in this area as a lawyer who specializes in this type of case. DUI lawyers also work regularly with the officers and judges in their area, and will have a better feel for how your case will go over with the people who will be handling it.
2. What other types of cases do you take?
The saying “a Jack of all trades is a master of none” applies here. Avoid lawyers who are spread too thin, or take any case that comes their way. Also consider any other charges you face. If you have additional criminal charges, look for someone who handles criminal cases. Likewise, if you face additional traffic violations, a traffic lawyer who is also experienced with DUIs may be more helpful in your case.
3. What is your track record for winning cases?</4>
This one is pretty obvious – if they can’t win a case, they likely won’t win yours.
4. How strong is my case?
This question gives you an opportunity to gauge how well an attorney understands what is going on with your case. Whether they believe you have a strong case or not doesn’t matter as much as whether they can explain it to you in a way that you can understand. A lawyer that can communicate well with you will be more helpful as your case progresses.
5. What are the best and worst possible outcomes for my case?
This is another opportunity to gauge how well an attorney can communicate, but also a good way to see the range of what they’re capable of, and whether they are honest. An attorney who promises nothing but good outcomes may not be able to deliver, but could just be trying to win your business.
6. What are my options?
This is an opportunity to get an understanding of how a lawyer will approach your case, and what the outcomes are for each scenario. Lawyers who offer you limited options for your case are likely not as skilled as those who can discuss different courses of action in detail with you.
7. How much will it cost?
Ultimately, you can’t hire a lawyer you can’t afford. However, you should also weigh the benefits you’ve determined from the earlier questions against the cost to determine the best lawyer you can hire for yourself while staying within your budget.
8. What is included in your fee?
There can be many hidden costs in hiring an attorney, and the initial quote you get for your defense may not include all of the extra fees for anything from research time, travel, or even additional phone calls with you to discuss your case. Understand the details of what you’re getting when you decide to hire someone.
9. Who will handle my case?
The lawyer you speak with may not necessarily be the one to handle your case, especially if they work for a large law firm. You need to know who will be working on the details of your case, and who will be appearing in court to represent you. If it’s not the same person you’re asking these questions to, you may not be getting the level of experience you expected from your attorney.
10. What certifications or training do you have related to DUIs?
Some attorneys can be certified in things like breathalyzer use, which can be useful in defending your case. While not always necessary, extra certifications that relate to your situation can be helpful in deciding between two otherwise equally skilled and priced attorneys.