6 Questions to Consider When Hiring a DUI Lawyer
1-Should you plead guilty?
Pleading guilty or not guilty is a common legal question, and very important in DUI law. You should rarely if ever plead guilty to a DUI charge unless guilt is completely clear. Even a positive breath test showing you are over the limit can be questioned. There are so many points to consider that at a minimum consulting with a lawyer is essential. Yes, there are times when pleading guilty has benefits, but never do so without a lawyer.
2-What is his or her price?
How much value can you put on a lawyer? Unfortunately, not all will give you the same value. That makes it more difficult to see who's going to help you win. Some settle on DUI lawyers rather than choose them, often because of price. If a lawyer is way out of your price range, it's understandable to keep looking. It does depend on your budget, but remember, if you lose your license, are fined, even go to jail, that can cost you much more time and money. Therefore, put a high value on an experienced DUI lawyer.
3-What legal background does the lawyer have?
A DUI lawyer will have a degree and have passed the bar exam. Beyond his or her education, you should look at what cases the lawyer has settled. They may have had a good many cases with successful defenses, lessening charges and sometimes winning. Or they could have helped others get their license back after losing it to DUI. Asking for references and successes is quite important.
4-How available are they?
You don't want a lawyer juggling 20 cases at one time. Sometimes you can't afford a more expensive lawyer, but neither can you afford the cheapest lawyer available. If they are cheap, they may have little time to actually prepare an effective defense, which we'll be going over. You don't want a $50,000 bill, but neither do you want jail time, license suspension, and fines because the lawyer didn't fight for your rights.
5-What is their opinion on your case?
You want your lawyer to evaluate your case and explain in real terms what might happen. Most DUI charges with positive breath and blood tests lead to charges. Since most DUI cases are now in front of a judge rather than jury, and since these judges hear many not guilty pleas from guilty drivers, it may be time for a reality check. You can be completely honest with your lawyer and ask for advice.
6-How do they propose a defense?
On the other hand, innocent until proven guilty should be on your mind. If you minimize the affects of the penalties, you might avoid going to jail and losing your license for a long time. There is a lot of value in that. But in order to do that, a lawyer must prepare an effective defense. This can include whether the breathalyzer test was accurate, if you had been drinking at all or in excess, how and why the officer pulled you over, and how you were treated. Yes, it can be complex, and you need not understand every law and court process. But it's good to ask questions from the beginning.