Interview Questions to Ask a DUI Attorney
After being charged with drunk driving, your first step should be to contact an attorney experienced in DUI and DWI defenses. The outcome of your case is partly determined by the legal representation you hire. In this blog post, we will go over questions you should ask a drunk driving attorney during your initial meeting.
How long have you been practicing criminal law?
The last thing you want is some attorney fresh out of law school representing your case. While everyone has to start somewhere, you don’t need a rookie using your case as a “learning experience”. Hire an attorney that has spent many years practicing law in your state and city.
For example, Attorney Jerry Beurkens has been practicing in Grand Rapids for over 30 years. A DUI attorney who has practiced in your area will know enough about local prosecutors and judges to tweak their tactics and arguments accordingly.
Do you take other types of cases?
Have you ever heard the expression, “jack of all trades, and master of none”? There will always be plenty of attorneys who’ll be more than happy to take your money, but aren’t able to offer the expertise of a DUI attorney.
You want an attorney who has dedicated their career to helping people in your exact same situation. During your interview with a DUI lawyer, be sure to ask them if they take on other types of cases besides driving under the influence. If it seems they offer legal representation for everything under the sun, keep looking.
What percentage of your caseload is devoted to DUI or DWI charges?
Asking this question will give you a good sense of how much experience they have managing cases like yours. While law firms like to offer a huge laundry list of services, they usually have one or two types of cases that they represent the most.
How often do you take your DUI or DWI cases to trial?
The legal consequences of drunk driving are severe. Not only do you face jail time for DUI, but you could also have your driver’s license suspended. The harsh consequences make it even more important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your case.
If your attorney has a reputation for fighting DUI charges and taking cases to trial, there’s a good chance the prosecutors will reduce the charges. If your case does go to trial, your attorney will do their best to create reasonable doubt surrounding breathalyzer results and the police officer’s testimony. Avoid lawyers who don’t put in the full effort to beat a DUI.
How can I contact you?
The success of your case will partly rest on being able to communicate effectively with your lawyer. Before hiring a DUI attorney, make sure you ask them the best way to reach them. Some attorneys prefer email, while others prefer phone calls. Setting up expectations for communication will help make the process go smoothly.
Questions to Ask a DUI Lawyer
If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to hire a DUI lawyer to help you with each stage of the case. Before hiring a DUI lawyer, prepare a list of questions. Some questions to consider adding to your list include:
What Are Your Primary Practice Areas?
One of the first questions you should ask any lawyer you are considering hiring as your criminal defense lawyer is what areas of law they focus on.
Some lawyers may offer services as a DUI lawyer but may spend most of their time on family law cases or contract issues.
Many individuals prefer to hire a lawyer whose primary focus is on DUI law. This will ensure that he or she is up-to-date on the latest legal issues and strategies in DUI defense cases. He or she will likely have greater credibility with local prosecutors due to this focus and recognition in this aspect of the legal community.
What Experience Do You Have Handling DUI Charges?
It is also important for you to have an understanding of the individual experience your DUI lawyer has in this area of the law.
Ask any prospective lawyer you are considering hiring about their DUI case track record. Find out about the total number of DUI cases the lawyer has handled and about the outcome of these cases. Ask how many cases they have taken to trial and won. Also, inquire about the percentage of charges that were dismissed and those that resulted in a favorable plea bargain that resulted in a lighter charge or sentence.
At some larger firms, the lawyer you meet at your initial consultation may not actually be the lawyer who primarily works on your case. Ask whether or not the person you are interviewing will be the primary attorney assigned to the case. If less experienced attorneys will be working on your case, you may not get the benefit of the experience of someone who focuses on DUI law.
Are You Qualified to teach Police Officers How to Conduct the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
Most defendants were subjected to roadside sobriety testing by their arresting officer. Very few attorneys claiming to defend DUIs have actually gone through the rigorous training to be certified in administering these tests. Not only have I completed this training and am certified to administer these tests, I am also certified as an instructor in the NHTSA curriculum and am qualified to teach police officers how to conduct these roadside tests. I use this training to cross-examine officers, to suppress evidence and to counter allegations that you were “affected by” alcohol or drugs.
Questions on Legal Fees & Rates:
- Is the first consultation really free?
- What and how do you charge after that? Hourly? Flat rate fee? How much?
- Are there extra fees, like for expert witnesses or blood sample re-testing?
- Will I get one big bill, or separate bills along the way?
- What form of payment do you accept?
Questions on Possible Outcomes to Your Legal Case:
- Can you get my charges reduced? Beware a DUI lawyer who guarantees this. Every case is different, and there are no guaranteed outcomes.
- Is a plea agreement a possibility?
- Are there any motions you can make, like a motion to suppress evidence?
- Is there anything that goes in my favor on my DUI case? What factors go against me?
- Should we take a plea or go to trial?
”What challenges do you see in my case?”
The lawyer should be able to explain to you what he or she sees as the challenges you face and what they could mean for the ultimate result.
“How will you keep me informed about my case?”
You must feel comfortable with the attorney’s commitment to communicate with you. You should know if you would really be kept informed of developments in your case.
“What will be the final outcome of my case?”
A good attorney will not promise you a specific result, because it is always impossible to be certain how a case will turn out. Any other answer is dishonest and unethical. A good attorney can only promise to do his or her best job in defending you.