A DUI charge is a serious offense that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the state of Maine, first-time offenders could face jail time, a $500 fine and a 90-day license suspension. This doesn’t include a possible probation period.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, it’s crucial you hire an attorney to represent you and help guide you to the best possible outcome. You shouldn’t try to navigate the legal process yourself.
But how do you know which DUI law firm to hire? You need to get a lawyer involved right away, but you don’t want to hire the wrong person.
Simply by asking some important questions, you can determine if a law firm will protect your rights with your best interests in mind.
Let’s go over nine questions to ask potential attorneys before hiring them.
1. How Long Have You Handled DUI Cases?
Although many criminal attorneys can work DUI cases, that doesn’t mean they’re experienced enough to excel in them. Drunk driving laws are very specific, so you need a DUI law firm that has years of experience and education concerning drunk driving.
You need to hire a lawyer who’s seen all types of DUI charges, many of which were probably exactly like yours. They’ll know the best approach to take with your case.
Ask how many years they’ve practiced DUI law and if they have any specialized education in that area.
2. What’s Your DUI Track Record?
Aside from the number of years a DUI law firm has focused on drunk driving cases, you’ll also want to know what their track record is.
Now, a drunk driving charge is very difficult to get dismissed. Keep this in mind when interviewing an attorney.
Along with dismissals, ask about their track record with regard to the reduction of penalties, such as license suspension, and probation time.
3. What Cities Do You Typically Handling DUIs In?
It’s always best to hire a DUI law firm that focuses their practice close to where you got arrested.
It’s a good idea to ask what courts they primarily handle cases in and how long they’ve been established in that area.
Lawyers tend to have a large network of connections in the cities they practice. This includes prosecuting attorneys, judges, and other court staff.
This makes it much easier to work your case effectively. They’ll know what to expect if a certain prosecuting attorney or judge gets assigned to your case.
4. Are You Trained in Field Sobriety Tests?
When you got arrested for drunk driving, you probably had to take a field sobriety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies and approves these tests and devices.
The administration of tests (such as a breathalyzer) by the arresting officer plays a huge role in DUI cases. It’s important your lawyer has specialized training and knowledge of these procedures.
Many criminal attorneys are actually trained on the operation of breathalyzer devices. This training could end up being a big advantage when evaluating the details of your case.
5. How Much Will My Case Cost?
You’ll want to know upfront how an attorney will bill you for their time and how their pay structure works. If you need to ask about payment options, now’s the time to do it.
You should also ask about the possibility of additional fees during the course of your case. You’re probably going to have to pay court fees as well, so you want to avoid any unexpected charges by your attorney.
You should also ask about forms of payment. Do they take credit cards? If so, which ones?
6. Will You Be the One Handling My Case?
A DUI law firm may have many attorneys working for them. During your consultation, you need to ask whether the lawyer you’re talking to will handle your case or if it’ll get assigned to someone else.
If another lawyer is to handle your case, you need to ask to consult with them directly. They need to have all the credentials to effectively represent you.
You don’t want to end up hiring a law firm only to find out a junior attorney you don’t know will be the one you’re working with.
7. What Outcome Do You Expect in My Case?
While it’s impossible for an attorney to predict the exact outcome of a case before it actually starts, they can look at the details and give you a good idea of how they think it will play out.
They’ll also be able to give you some information regarding timelines.
When will you be able to get your license back? How much probation could you face? Knowing this information helps you plan for the immediate future.
If you think your arrest was unjust or that procedural mistakes were made by an officer, ask the attorney if they think a dismissal is possible.
8. How Do You Typically Communicate with Clients?
Criminal law attorneys are busy. This means they’re often in court and unavailable.
It’s a good idea to ask about their communication procedures up front. Do they use an assistant to communicate with clients? Is there a specific form of communication (phone, e-mail, text, etc.) that they prefer?
Make sure you’re comfortable with the way they update clients about cases. Be clear about your expectations so there’s no confusion once the case gets going.
9. Are You a Member of Any Criminal Law Associations?
It’s a good idea to work with a criminal attorney who’s a member of state and national legal organizations. This shows they’re active in the criminal law community and probably attend continuing education.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College for DUI Defense are both accredited organizations.
Find the Right DUI Law Firm for Your Case
When hiring an attorney to protect your rights, you need to know they have the experience and know-how to make the decisions that serve your best interest. A drunk driving charge can wreak havoc on your immediate future. A qualified lawyer can help limit the damage so you can get back on your feet.
We defend individuals charged with DUI and OUI in Saco, ME and surrounding areas. Contact us today to set up a free initial consultation.