A DUI can completely ruin your life. It’s a major inconvenience that forces you to jump through a million hoops. Fighting a DUI charge, trying to work out a plea, or lessening the charge will put your life back on track. To do that, you’ll need the help of a qualified DUI lawyer.
Find A DUI Lawyer
After you’ve found a lawyer, you’ll want to book a consultation to see if they’re the right fit for you. Before going into your consultation, you should prepare by asking these 9 questions. If your lawyer cannot confidently and honestly answer them, it might be time to move on.
Before your consultation, make sure you also bring:
- Any tickets and citations regarding the charge
- A copy of any breathalyzers and blood samples
- A copy of any warrants as well as your confiscated property
- Any witness statements
- Photos of damages or the scene
- All law enforcement paperwork
- Your driver’s license
- Any previous tickets and convictions
- All court dates and the names of the officials involved
If you do not have all these things, there’s no need to worry. Do bring anything you think could be used as evidence and be prepared to ask your DUI lawyer these questions.
What does a DUI hearing and case entail?
Hopefully, this is your first and only DUI charge. Chances are, you have no idea what you’re about to walk into. Asking your lawyer for a basic walk-through of everything you’re about to endure in the near future. This lets you know what to expect and how to prepare for it.
What is your experience with DUI cases? Do you specialize in DUI cases?
This may be a bit of a loaded question, and you may have already done some research on your lawyer before you’ve arrived at your consultation. Use the following questions to get more details on your lawyer:
- How long have you been a DUI lawyer?
- How many DUI cases do you have right now, and do you have enough time for mine?
- Do you only work with DUI cases or are there other practices of law you handle?
Depending on the details of your case, you might want to consider a lawyer who also practices in other areas of the law. DUIs can have serious consequences in several different ways, not just your ability to drive.
You should also consider whether or not your lawyer has time for you. Good lawyers won’t try to pressure you to work with them if their plate is already full. Be wary of any lawyer that tries to convince you otherwise.
What kind of special training do you have as a DUI lawyer?
DUI lawyers may go through additional training or have a special relationship with law enforcement so they truly understand the scope of roadside safety. Your DUI lawyer may have once been a DUI prosecutor, so they could also have some insight into your county’s system. In addition to asking about their experience, see if they:
- Have been on a DUI ride-along with a police officer.
- Are certified by The National College for DUI Defense or another DUI organization.
- Have DUI specialist certifications, as many states will have certain requirements or tests to qualify.
- Have taken the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration student or instructor Standardized Field Sobriety Test courses.
How familiar are you with the local court system?
You’ll be dealing with a lot of law officials in your county’s court system. Seeing if your lawyer is familiar with your area’s courts and prosecutors can give your case a good advantage. Your lawyer could have better insight into common plea deals. It may be even more helpful if you’ve received the DUI in a county you don’t live in or are unfamiliar with.
What is the scope of representation?
In addition to possibly going to court, you may also need representation at the DMV. The DMV proceedings are entirely administrative and will deal with your suspended license, making it outside of criminal court proceedings.
It’s also important to see if your lawyer charges for administrative DMV proceedings. They may charge the same hourly rate or just a flat fee.
How will communication work between us?
You may not have much back and forth with your DUI case, but all questions, emails, and phone calls could be charged. Get your lawyer to tell you the quickest way they can get back to you when it comes to urgent matters, and what they’ll charge you for.
How will you charge me? What do you estimate my DUI case will cost?
There are several ways your lawyer could charge you, from flat fees to an hourly rate. It’s hard to say for sure how much a case will really be, as each case is different. Depending on what scope of representation you want from your lawyer, you could also have additional fees you need to pay for.
The best way to prepare for unexpected costs is to budget more than what you think you’ll need. After your lawyer gives you a quote, budget some extra wiggle room or a safety net for your case. Remember to ask your lawyer if:
- They charge by an hourly or fixed fee
- Which calls, emails, or paralegals meetings are charged, and how much each costs.
- They have multiple partners working on your team, and how much each charges.
- They have different rates for in-court and out-of-court.
- There are additional fees or expenses.
Make sure to get an itemized list of all legal expenses, so you know where all your costs are coming from. In addition to your legal fees, you might have other expenses and fees to take care of such as:
- Private investigators
- Forensic accountants
- Doctors or nurses visits
- Blood tests
If you cannot afford a lawyer, see if you can work out a limited scope retainer with your lawyer.
What strategy do you recommend for my case?
Your lawyer could have a number of strategies depending on the details of your case. You could potentially get off on a “wet reckless” charge or possibly dismiss the case altogether.
Based on everything I’ve told you about my case, how do you predict it will go?
Your lawyer can’t predict everything, but if they have the qualifications and experience, they could tell you some things to expect. Even if what they tell you isn’t what you were hoping for, you at least have a good idea of what to expect.