Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
According to 2017 statistics, someone in the United States dies in drunk-driving accidents every 48 minutes. Although Pennsylvania alcohol-related fatalities decreased from 297 to 293, alcohol-related crashes increased in 2017.
Being charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, is an unnerving experience. You may be concerned about losing your driver’s license, your freedom, and costs and fines. Having a DUI on your record may have a long-term impact on your employment and your future. It is essential to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney. Asking your prospective attorney questions about your case should happen as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Remember, the attorney will be defending you. Naturally, you will be under a great deal of stress, so when meeting with a DUI attorney, it is a good idea to bring a list of any questions you want to ask. Here are some questions you should ask.
What Kind Of Experience Do You Have Handling Driving Under The Influence Cases?
- Does your practice focus on DUI law, or are you a general practice attorney?
- How long have you practiced DUI law?
- What percentage of your caseload is devoted to DUI cases?
- How many of these cases did you handle in the past year and how successful were those cases?
- What percentage of your DUI cases go to trial.
- How often have you been able to get the charges dropped or reduced to a lesser offense?
- Do you have any specialized training in DUI law?
How Do You See My Case Playing Out?
By the end of the consultation, you and the attorney should have discussed all the facts. It is important to provide complete and truthful facts, in order for the attorney to give you a fair and reasonable outlook. Once you have hired an attorney, he or she should be able to review police reports, dash cam videos, and other available information. Only then will he or she be able to form the most effective strategy to argue your case and give you a good idea of what to expect.
Who Will Handle My Case?
It helps to know who you will be working with as your case progresses:
- Will there be other staff working on my case, such as support staff, or paralegals?
- Will other experienced attorneys be working on my case?
- Who will be representing me in court?
How Do You Communicate With Your Clients?
People tend to have different expectations of attorney-client communications. Some clients want frequent updates; others only want to be notified of significant developments. It helps to have an understanding about communications from the beginning, to avoid misunderstandings later:
- How do you prefer to be contacted?
- How often will I receive updates on the status of my case?
- How quickly can I expect a response if I need to contact you?
Law Background and Experience
Not all criminal defense attorneys handle DWI and OWI cases. You’ll want to ensure that the lawyer you choose to work with knows how to handle a case with your specific circumstances. Here are experience-related questions to ask your DUI defense attorney.
- How long have you been working on DUI and OWI cases? How many cases do you work on in a year?
- What percentage of your caseload is devoted to DUIs?
- Are you familiar with the prosecutor in my case?
- Are you licensed to practice in both Iowa and Nebraska?
- How successful are you in defending DUI cases? In past DUI cases, how many have you been able to get the charges dropped or reduced to lesser charges?
- How do you think you will help me win my case?
Certification and Special Training
Sometimes an OWI lawyer will have special training to deal with DUI cases.
- Are you certified by DUI defense organizations such as the National College for DUI Defense or similar state bar organization?
- Have you been on a DUI ride-along with a police officer?
- Have you completed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Student or Instructor Standardized Field Sobriety courses?
- Do you have a knowledge of Breathalyzer and blood test toxicologists, and an understanding of alcohol toxicology?
Assessment of Your Case
Before DUI DWI attorneys can give you feedback about your options, they need to understand the charges and the evidence against you. Listen carefully to the questions the attorneys ask you, and answer them directly.
Then you can get some suggestions by asking:
- Would you recommend a guilty plea? Is a plea agreement a possibility? Should we go to trial?
- Which factors work in my favor?
- Which work against me?
- What can I expect at the different states of the process, including arraignment, filing of motions, motions hearing, disposition, and trial?
DUI DWI attorneys use the term case management to describe how they handle your case. It’s important to know the logistics behind the scenes so that there are no misunderstandings. Some relevant questions to ask include:
- Are you available to represent me?
- Will anybody else work on my case? If so, who else will work on my case? May I meet them?
- Will you be the one representing me in court or will someone else be there? If so, who else will represent me in court?
- Whom do I call with questions? How quickly can I expect a response?
- How do you prefer to be contacted?
- Will I receive regular status updates? How often? What will they include?
What Kind of Defense Strategy do You Expect to use in My DUI Case?
Every DUI case is different and involves varying facts and circumstances. An experienced DUI attorney will develop a defense strategy that takes into account both the facts surrounding your case and your preferred resolution of the matter. For instance, your attorney is likely to use any weaknesses in the state’s case against you to your advantage, such as having certain pieces of evidence withheld from consideration by the court. A strong defense strategy may result in having the charges against you or the resulting penalties reduced, or even having the charges dismissed altogether.
What are the Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction in My Situation?
In recent years, the penalties for a DUI conviction have become increasingly harsh as legislators seek to decrease the number of DUI-related accidents that often lead to injury or death. As a result, penalties for even a first-time DUI conviction can include driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of time, probation, fines and other fees, completion of alcohol education or counseling sessions, or even incarceration.
What Steps can I Take to Improve the Potential Outcome of My DUI Case?
It is essential that you avoid drinking as much as possible, and certainly avoid any situation in which you can again be accused of drunk driving. Being arrested for DUI while you already have a pending DUI is not helpful to your case. Furthermore, you should make every effort to show the court that incarceration or suspended driving privileges are not necessary in your case. For instance, you could voluntarily have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle and voluntarily undergo an alcohol assessment and/or counseling. It also is helpful to be gainfully employed or demonstrate the existence of family responsibilities, so as to show the court that incarceration and/or suspended driving privileges might result in the loss of your job.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
After meeting with the DUI DWI attorneys on your list, it’s time to choose one. If you only met with one, but the lawyer was clearly qualified-or you met with several, but one was the obvious choice-your search is over.
If, however, you cannot decide between two or more candidates, ask for the names and contact information for a few former clients. Call them to get some first-hand feedback. Ask them:
- What did you think of the experience working with your DUI attorney?
- What were the attorney’s strengths? What were the weaknesses?
- Do you believe your attorney fought hard for you?
- Would you hire this attorney again if you needed DUI help again?
If you still cannot decide, it’s time to ask a few more questions, this time, of yourself:
- Which attorney had the experience I need given the charges I’m facing?
- Which one offered advice I found most helpful?
- Of which one am I most confident?
- Whose legal fees were reasonable?
- With which attorney was I most comfortable?
The answers to these questions should point you in the direction of the very best DUI attorney for you. Once you hire him or her, you can face the rest of your prosecution.