It is not uncommon for an attorney to offer a free initial consultation where you are briefly introduced and able to discuss the details of your case. This is the perfect opportunity for you to address questions to the attorney to better determine if he or she is the right fit for you. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol it is important to find an experienced DUI attorney. How do you find a good DUI attorney? By asking the right questions.
This list is not meant to be comprehensive, it is only intended to give you some questions to help you better prepare for your consultation. Feel free to select, add, or remove questions based on how you feel they apply to the details of your case. The most important thing is that you are knowledgeable and better prepared to make the right decision.
Initial Consultation with a DUI Attorney
Chances are you have seen advertisements, websites, or even received referrals for various DUI attorneys and this can make the selection process more difficult. The first step is to set up an initial consultation and outline some goals you would like to achieve in that meeting:
- Learn about the background and experience of the attorney you are meeting with
- Discuss the options available to you
- Discuss possible strategies
- See if you feel comfortable with the attorney
Make sure that you receive clear answers to your questions and that the attorney gives you the time and attention your case deserves. If you feel rushed or uncomfortable, it may not be a good fit.
Preparing to Meet with a DUI Attorney
As mentioned, your initial consultation is a great opportunity to discuss the details of your case and ask important questions. Because of that fact, it is important that you show up for the meeting prepared. Whenever possible you should bring with you:
- Court documentation
- Bail papers
- Police report
- Important paperwork related to the case
- List of questions
- Writing materials
It can be very helpful for you to write down answers to your questions so you can refer to them later if needed.
Questions to Ask a DUI Attorney
Getting to know the attorney and learning more about their background and experience with DUI cases is extremely important in choosing the right attorney to represent you. You would not hire a contractor to build you a house that had never built a house before, so you want an attorney who is experienced with DUI law and has represented DUI cases throughout their career. There are many different types of criminal defense attorneys, you need one who focuses on DUI and DWI charges. You should consider asking about:
- Educational Background
- Bar associations and/or professional affiliations
- Criminal law experience
- DUI/DWI case experience
- DUI clients represented per year
- What types of cases they handle
- What percentage of their practice is dedicated to DUI/DWI
- Standard practices in DUI/DWI cases
- Trial experience
As you can see, it is important to find an attorney who is experienced in DUI law and has experience representing clients in such cases. A good DUI attorney should have no difficulty answering these questions clearly and addressing your concerns.
Discussing a DUI Case with an Attorney
During your initial consultation the attorney will likely use that opportunity to assess your case and provide you with feedback about your options. The attorney will likely ask you questions about your case to better understand the charges and evidence against you. In addition to the questions asked by the attorney, it may be helpful to ask some questions of your own. For example:
- Would you recommend a guilty plea?
- Is there a possibility of a plea agreement?
- Should this case go to trial?
- Do any factors of this case work in my favor?
- Do any factors of this case work against me?
- What can I expect as the process goes on?
This can be a lot to remember, so as we mentioned above it may be helpful to write your questions down before your consultation so that you do not forget.
DUI Case Management
DUI/DWI attorneys will often use the term “case management” when referring to how they handle your case. It is important to understand what is involved in case management, so you may consider asking:
- Are you available to represent me?
- Who else will be working on my case?
- Who will represent me in court?
- If I have questions, who do I contact?
- How do you prefer to be contacted?
- How often will I receive updates about the case?
Legal Fees with a DUI Case
A DUI can be expensive. In addition to the fact that you may lose your license, face increased insurance costs, DUI school, fines, and possible jail time, you also have legal fees to consider. Different attorneys handle billing differently with some choosing an hourly billing method and some using a flat fee. It is important to ask the attorney how their fee structure works so that you understand it clearly and are not surprised at any point in the process. Consider asking:
- Do you bill hourly or a flat fee?
- What is included in this fee and what would be additional?
- Are there any related legal expenses I can expect to pay?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- Do you offer any kind of payment plan?
Hiring a DUI Attorney
After you have met with the attorney(s) and you have asked all of your important questions it is time to make the decision on who to hire as your DUI attorney. Hopefully at this point the answers you received to your questions have pointed you in the right direction, however, if you feel uncertain you should ask yourself whether you are comfortable with the experience of the attorney, if you felt the attorney could strongly represent you, and whether or not you received the time and attention you deserve.
Knowing how to select the right DUI attorney and heading into an initial consultation prepared with the right questions to ask will help you make the best decision for yourself.