Top 5 Features to Look for When Choosing a DWI Lawyer
You Have Been Pulled Over
You see the flashing lights behind you, and you know you are headed for trouble. You may have had one too many drinks at the bar, or during the party at your friend's house. You might have indulged in illegal narcotics before getting behind the wheel. Or you may simply have misjudged the effects of a legitimately prescribed medication.
No matter what the circumstances are that prompted the police officer to pull you over, the likelihood that you will be charged with driving under the influence is high. If this is indeed the case, you will need to find a DWI attorney to represent you in court. Finding the right attorney could mean the difference between retaining your freedom and your driving privileges - or losing either or both of them.
Before retaining the services of an attorney, check out his or her educational and legal credentials. It doesn't matter where your attorney went to law school; what does matter is that the school is fully accredited and that the attorney's license to practice law is valid in your jurisdiction. The attorney's professional website is a good starting point for checking out his or her credentials. You should also determine whether the attorney has a history of adverse legal actions or disciplinary measures taken against him or her.
Total Legal Experience
You do not want to be your attorney's first client. Especially for a matter as serious as driving under the influence, if you are paying for your own representation, you should insist on a seasoned attorney with substantial courtroom experience. This does not rule out hiring a young attorney. In fact, a young attorney who makes regular court appearances in defense of his or her clients is preferable to an older attorney whose practice is mainly transactional - that is, conducted outside the courtroom.
DUI Trial Experience
Many otherwise fine attorneys are totally unsuitable to represent you in a DUI cases because they do not specialize in DUI cases. The laws on intoxication and impairment are complex, and unless an attorney has regular exposure to DUI cases and legislation, he or she may not have the latest information on hand.
Determining Who Will Actually Represent You
Once you have found an attorney that you like, don't sign a final contract until you determine who will actually represent you. Especially if your attorney is affiliated with a large firm, your case may be assigned to an entirely different attorney. If you cannot come to an agreement with an attorney with one firm, run; do not walk to the nearest exit to seek the services of a different attorney.
Reach a Meeting of the Minds
Many DUI attorneys will allow you to schedule a single appointment at no charge. During this session, you will be allowed to describe your version of events. The attorney will consider your information in conjunction with the police report, and then relate his or her views on the best approach to the case. If the attorney's views don't mesh with your beliefs, then you are better off with another lawyer.
Tom Grant is a DWI defense lawyer. He frequently shares his top tips for finding a DWI lawyer on criminal defense blogs.