A DUI conviction can have long-lasting and devastating ramifications on your life. After you get out of jail, pay your fine, or finish your community service, you may have difficulties finding or going back to work, getting a loan, being approved for an apartment, or carrying on with your life as you did before your arrest.
Because of the damages that DUI charges can inflict on your life, you should do everything possible to fight your case in court. Your plan of action should include retaining a skilled and assertive DUI lawyer to act as your counsel and representative before the judge. Use these important facts to learn how and when to hire a drunk driving lawyer today.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney
Why should you hire a drunk driving attorney and how can you locate the best DUI lawyer to take your case? Before you start calling each DUI law firm in your local area, you should first learn how you can benefit by hiring a lawyer to represent you in your case.
The primary reason to hire a DUI lawyer centers on the fact that as an ordinary citizen you more than likely are not familiar with the DUI laws in your state. In fact, those laws can change quickly without the public being aware of it. If you go to court by yourself with information you have about outdated DWI mandates, you could still lose your case and have to serve any punishment handed down to you.
Instead of going to court alone, you may be able to minimize the damages that the DUI charges will have on your life by retaining a DUI defense attorney. Your attorney can gather the facts of the case, ensure that your rights are protected, and go to court to bargain down or ask for the charges to be dropped if warranted.
When to Hire a DUI Attorney
At what point in your case should you hire a criminal defense lawyer? You should ideally secure the services of a drunk driving lawyer immediately after your arrest. After the police process you and you post bail, you should immediately call an attorney and set up a meeting to discuss your case.
After you have the lawyer on retainer, you should then allow your DUI defense attorney to take over your case. Your lawyer can review the facts of your arrest to ensure that you were lawfully detained and arrested. He or she can also make sure that you were read your rights and given the legal entitlements that are allowed to you by the U.S. Constitution.
You definitely should have a lawyer on retainer by the time you show up for your initial court appearances. If you were not arraigned before you were released from jail, you will have to show up for an arraignment hearing. It is best that you have your lawyer with you for that first appearance before the judge.
You likewise should have an attorney on retainer by the time your case goes to trial. In fact, your lawyer may be able to have your case settled out of court or even get the charges lowered or dropped if you are a first-time DUI offender.
You may simply have to pay a fine or complete 30 days’ worth of community service. However, you may not be afforded these lower penalties if you show up to court with an attorney to represent you.
So how can you ensure that your lawyer is truly the best one for your case? Before you go to your initial consultation, you should know what qualifications to look for in a good DUI attorney.
A reliable DWI lawyer will have ample experience arguing DUI cases in court and also dedicate a portion if not all of his or her practice to this legal specialty. Further, your ideal attorney should be well-versed in the state’s DUI laws and know how to apply each one to your particular case.
Likewise, he or she should understand the host of penalties that a judge can mete out for DUI defendants. Your lawyer should be ready to help you avoid all of the punishments by using the facts of your case to bargain down or request a dismissal of the charges.
You also should go into your initial consultation with the lawyer with questions that you want to ask before you place the attorney on retainer. Some of the questions that would be suitable to bring up include:
- How long have you practiced law?
- How much of your practice do you dedicate to DUI defense?
- Who will handle the majority of work related to my case? Will your paralegals or assistants do most of the work or will you be directly involved in building my defense?
- How much direct interaction can I expect from you if I call, email, or come to your office to discuss my case?
- What is your retainer fee and what is your schedule of charges?
The last question puts many people off when it comes to hiring a lawyer to take their DUI case. They believe that they cannot afford to retain an attorney.
However, many lawyers work with clients to establish affordable payments and reasonable charges that they can pay off over the course of time. If you genuinely cannot afford to hire an attorney, however, you could ask the court to appoint you one at no cost.
How to Find a DWI Attorney
Your last concern when it comes to hiring a lawyer for your DWI case may center on where you can find one in your immediate area. You might not know any lawyers personally and may never have had need for one in the past. What lawyers can you call and ask for help before you go to court?
Before you start calling random law firms in your city, you should first ask friends and relatives for their input. They might know the name of a good criminal defense lawyer who can help you in court. They may even have firsthand knowledge of the attorney’s legal expertise and retainer fees.
Likewise, you can call the state bar association and ask for the name of a DWI defense lawyer in your city. The bar association typically keeps an active roster of lawyers in each legal specialty. There is no charge for asking the bar association for a reference.
If you want to avoid asking people you know and work with for advice about your drinking and driving matter, you can keep your case under wraps by doing some research online about attorneys in your area. You can find a host of websites dedicated to lawyer referrals. The sites are set up so that you can search for lawyers in your state, city, or even specific zip code.
Many of the sites also allow people to critique the services they received from the lawyers. While you should expect the reviews to contain a certain amount of bias, you should still read each one and give it fair consideration. Based on what you read in those critiques, you can then decide what lawyer to call and with whom to set up a meeting.
Drinking and driving is a crime in all 50 states that carries harsh penalties and steep monetary fines. When you have been arrested for DWI, it is critical that you get a lawyer on retainer quickly.
This information tells you why it is important that you have a legal representative by your side before you face the judge. You can also learn how to locate and hire a defense attorney to advocate for you and help minimize the damages that this offense could have on your life.