By: John S. Webb, Portland, Maine DUI Attorney and Best Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A DUI charge is a serious offense that should NEVER be taken lightly. In the state of Maine first-time OUI offenders could face more jail time, a $500 fine, and a 90-day license suspension. A first offense doesn’t include a possible probation period.
If you’ve been arrested in southern Maine for DUI-OUI, it’s crucial you consider local law firms near me and then hire an attorney to represent you and help guide you to the best possible outcome. No person facing prosecution for a Maine OUI should try to navigate the legal process by themselves.
But how do you know which DUI law firm to hire? Have you looked at law offices near me, who have experienced driving under the influence lawyers on staff? You need to get a Maine lawyer involved right away for an operating while intoxicated case, but you don’t want to hire the wrong person.
Just by asking some important questions, you can determine if a Southern Maine law firm will protect your rights and keep your best interests in mind.
Let’s go over nine questions to ask potential DUI attorneys before hiring them.
1. How Long Have You Handled DUI Cases in Portland ME and Saco ME?
Although many criminal attorneys can work DUI cases, that doesn’t mean they’re experienced enough to excel at them. Drunk driving laws are specific, so you need a DUI law firm that has years of experience and education concerning drunk driving. Maine OUI laws change all the time so our defense strategies have to evolve to give you the best possible means to beat an OUI.
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 the attorney has practiced Maine DUI law and if they have any specialized education in that area.
2. What Is Your DUI Success Rate?
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.
A drunk driving charge is tough to get dismissed. Keep this fact in mind when interviewing an attorney.
Along with dismissals, ask about their track record onbreduction of penalties, such as license suspension and probation time.
3. In What Southern Maine Cities Do You Typically Handle DUIs?
It’s always best to hire a local DUI law firm that focuses their practice close to where you got arrested. In southern Maine, from the Augusta area and SOUTH of that area, our two offices (in Portland and Saco) are well-versed on the courts in this part of the Pine Tree State.
It’s a good idea to ask any lawyers being considered which courts in the south part of Maine the law firm primarily handle cases in and how long they’ve been established in that area.
Our Maine criminal lawyers near me have a large network of court connections in the cities where we practice. This network includes being on a “first name” basis with most prosecuting attorneys, judges, and other court staff. As with most businesses, this familiarity with court personnel makes it much easier to obtain the best possible outcome for your case facts.
4. Are You Trained in Field Sobriety Tests?
When you got arrested for drunk driving, you probably had to take at least one field sobriety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies and approves these tests and devices. The three most popular roadside tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN or eye test), the walk and turn (WAT), and the one-legged stand (OLT). Each of these 3 non-scientific tests are hard to pass even if a driver was 100% sober, so I highly recommend NOT TAKING THEM. You have a choice even though the law enforcement officer makes it sound like you have no choice but to complete them.
The administration of tests (such as a portable breath test or breathalyzer) by the arresting officer plays a huge role in DUI cases. It’s essential that your lawyer has specialized training and knowledge of these procedures. In court Maine OUI Super Lawyer John S. Webb will challenge all test results, and file motions to suppress this evidence. Remember that your performance on these tests was captured on police dash cam and body cam, including audio so please remain silent as much as you can.
One of the first steps our best lawyers near me take is to request a copy of your “arrest video” from the prosecutor’s office. We will watch the video over and over to make sure the arresting officer followed all legal requirements.
Many criminal attorneys are trained in the operation of breathalyzer devices. This training could end up being a substantial advantage when evaluating the details of your case and trying to exclude or minimize the impact of a breath alcohol test.
5. How Much Will My OUI Case Cost – Payment Plans?
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 plan options, now’s the time to do it.
You should also ask about the possibility of additional fees during 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? How much money down will I have to give the law firm?
6. Will You Be the Actual OUI Lawyer 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 will 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 represent you effectively. And they should have a personality that makes you confident in the lawyer’s ability to not be intimidated in court.
7. What Are My Chances of Beating the DUI Charge?
While it’s impossible for an attorney to predict the exact outcome of a case before it starts, they can look at the details and give you a good idea of how they think the case will play out. This ability comes from EXPERIENCE in practicing law and knowing the “players” in the Maine courts.
Once our criminal defense attorneys know all your case facts, our firm can give you some information regarding certain timelines. This information includes knowing when you will be able to get your driver’s license back. If a plea deal is negotiated for you, our lawyers in Maine can provide critical information that will help 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 believe a dismissal is possible.
8. How Do You Typically Communicate With Your Clients?
Criminal defense lawyers stay busy carrying out their legal services to their clients. This responsibility means that successful attorneys in Maine are often in court and unavailable by phone. Plus, negotiations with prosecutors often happen face-to-face. That is why a good paralegal is so important. This legal professional will handle all of the court appearance details and will let you know days in advance when your first court date is, and in which courtroom.
Your first court appearance is called an arraignment and during this proceeding you or your attorney will enter a plea of not guilty. At that point another court date is set by placing your case on the court calendar. Behind the scenes Mr. Webb will file motions with the court clerk to obtain the evidence that the state prosecutor plans to present to the presiding judge.
It’s a good idea to ask about any prospective criminal law attorneys’ communication procedures upfront. Do they have full-time personnel? Assistants 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.
A lot of our clients have never been arrested before and this OUI is their first encounter with law enforcement. Therefore our clients have a lot of important questions that we are committed to answering in plain terms. Waiting for your court date can be nerve-wracking so we strive to keep you informed of any scheduling changes. Court dates get pushed back all the time, especially with the backlog of cases caused by Covid 19.
We do our best to explain our legal services in easy-to-understand terms, and we will never minimize the seriousness of the penalties you could be facing if you are found guilty.
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 membership 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 Best Portland ME DUI Law Firm Near Me
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.
John Webb and his associates defend individuals charged with DUI and OUI in Saco, ME, Portland, ME, and surrounding areas. Call today to set up a free lawyer consultation. Call our Saco number at (207) 283-6400 or our Portland number at (207) 835-7008.
Before you call check out John S. Webb’s solid attorney ratings and lawyer ratings, and also the positive reviews from former clients.