Here’s What Separates Great DUI Lawyers From the Average Ones - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Here’s What Separates Great DUI Lawyers From the Average Ones

DUI lawyers are a dime a dozen. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a small town, you have plenty of options to choose from. The question is, how do you select the right one? Put another way, how do you find a DUI attorney who is going to help you win your case?

What to Look for in a DUI Lawyer

Attorneys aren’t one-size-fits-all professionals. Just like you wouldn’t hire a dentist to surgically repair your ACL, you shouldn’t assume that any old attorney can help you with your DUI case. You need a lawyer who specializes in DUIs and aligns with your needs, preferences, and pursuits.

The good news is there are lots of DUI attorneys. But that can also be a double-edged sword. Here’s how you slice through the noise and find a lawyer who will give you the best chance of being successful:

1. Look for a Prosecutorial Background

When hiring a lawyer, it’s important to ask about their background. Not only does this tell you about their experience, but it also sheds some light on their perspective.

If possible, try to find a DUI defense attorney who has also been a prosecutor. These attorneys have spent thousands of hours preparing for trial and litigating cases just like yours in court. They know what things look like on the other side of the table. They have firsthand knowledge that your average defense attorney can only access through the grapevine. All these little nuggets of truth benefit you as your attorney faces off with prosecutors.

2. Ask About Field Sobriety Test Training

Many DUI defenses come down to the validity and legality of field sobriety tests. Thus, it’s imperative that your defense attorney has as much knowledge as possible on the subject.

“The best way to understand field sobriety tests is to literally sit in a police academy and take the 40-hour class alongside new police recruits,” Jimeno & Gray A.P. explains. “By completing this training, an attorney gets to see how officers are taught to administer the tests, record their observations and later testify in court. DUI lawyers who lack this training can get eaten alive during trials by experienced police officers. 

Don’t be shy about asking a DUI attorney if they’ve ever sat through field sobriety test training. Most will not have gone through this step. If you find one who has, move this lawyer to the top of your list.

3. Seek Out State-Specific Experience

Laws on DUIs differ from state to state. This includes everything from legal BAC limits to requirements for police stops to statutes of limitation. It’s important that you hire an attorney who has experience defending DUI cases in the state you’re being charged in. This ensures you get the best possible representation, regardless of the nuances that exist in your jurisdiction.

4. Ask About Legal Costs Up Front

Lawyer fees shouldn’t be your number one determining factor in selecting a DUI attorney. (The long-term costs of a conviction far outweigh the upfront cost of avoiding a conviction.) However, a reputable DUI attorney won’t dance around the issue of pricing.

Ask about legal costs at the beginning. Most DUI attorneys operate on a flat fee basis. Thus, it’s important to find out what they’re going to charge you and what’s included in the fee. For example, does your lawyer fee cover trial? Or will you end up owing additional fees if the case proceeds to court?

Finding the Right Lawyer for You 

In DUI cases, time is usually of the essence. You don’t have months of time to search for the right attorney. However, a compressed timetable doesn’t mean you need to take shortcuts. Be meticulous and thorough, carefully vetting all options along the way. When you find an attorney who ticks off all of the boxes on your checklist, trust your gut and make a decision.

The right attorney – one who is skilled and experienced – may help you reduce or eliminate jail time, avoid a revoked license, reduce your DUI charge to a much lesser offense, and/or avoid trial with a friendly plea bargain.

This isn’t something to take lightly. Nothing against public defenders, but you typically get what you pay for. A comprehensive vetting process will serve you well in the long run.

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I'm a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze Contact the author.

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