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In the US, a driver is considered too drunk to be behind the wheel if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.08%. Many people don’t understand what this limit feels like or how easily they might be able to reach it, resulting in a DUI — which can have serious consequences if you don’t have the right representation.
If you’ve been hit with one of these and you’re looking for a DUI lawyer to help you, there are some important factors to consider when choosing.
Here’s everything to consider when choosing your lawyer.
Find Out How Past Clients Feel
If you have a DUI offense, you need to know how your lawyer has done with these in the past. That means finding out how past clients feel about their experiences and the result of their cases.
You can do this in a few different ways:
- Asking for references and talking to clients
- Looking on their website for testimonials
- Googling them and looking for third-party reviews
To get the best picture of a lawyer, it’s a good idea to do all three — though there may be enough testimonials and reviews that you don’t need to ask to speak to past clients. If you do, just remember the lawyer needs the clients’ permission to put you in contact with them.
Check Their Location
If you’ve found a really good lawyer but they’re two hours away, it may not be worth hiring them. Not only is the distance inconvenient, but it means they aren’t familiar with the local courts in your area.
Knowing how things work in a specific area, as well as those who work there, is often part of being a good lawyer and achieving the desired result.
Ask About Their Experience
You also need to ask about your lawyer’s experience. General experience is important (how long have they been practicing law?) but even more so is the experience they have with your specific kind of case and how many they would consider themselves successful in.
What’s the typical outcome for them when it comes to DUIs? Do they have experience with 2nd DUI penalties, if this isn’t your first?
While you might feel uncomfortable grilling a lawyer about their career history, they won’t take offense. They understand that a DUI conviction is a serious one and you’re looking for the person who’ll do their best for you.
Consider Their Communication
As you start to talk with the lawyer, you should consider their communication in two ways.
The first is that they should be responding to you within a reasonable timeframe. While lawyers are often busy, you don’t want to deal with one that leaves a simple question unanswered for weeks on end, as it doesn’t bode well for how on top of things they are.
The second is that they communicate with you in a way that is clear, professional, and non-judgmental. They’re the expert in the law and they need to be able to relay and explain information to you in a way that is informative and not patronizing. You also need to feel like they’re in your corner.
Getting the best result requires you to open up to your lawyer and tell them the truth, even when you may not feel great about it. If you don’t feel comfortable being honest with your lawyer, it could be a sign they’re just not the right one for you.
Ask About Their Availabilty
You may need to meet with your lawyer frequently after a DUI arrest, in the lead-up to the case. You may also only have certain times when you can meet with your lawyer due to other responsibilities, like work and dependents.
Figuring out when you’re both available and making sure those times coincide is key to getting things done.
Consider Their Office
Their office should also feel like a very organized place. Having other staff, like paralegals, is often key to doing the best job possible as it means there are others to share the workload and the lawyer themselves can stay on top of everything.
If the office feels chaotic and no one can find anything, it’s a red flag.
Find Out About the Fee Structure
Before you commit, the last thing you need to do is make sure you understand how much you’ll be paying and on what basis. Lawyers have different fee structures — some charge by the hour, others may charge more of a flat rate, there may be a retainer fee, etc.
There’s lots to consider.
However, although lawyers are expensive, you shouldn’t just go with the cheapest option and call it a day. The cheapest lawyer may be that way because they have less experience in DUIs and it could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Remember, a good lawyer will save you money in the long run because they’ll be able to reduce potential fines and fees from a case.
Consider These Things Before Hiring a DUI Lawyer
If you’re looking for a DUI lawyer, it’s easy to panic and rush the search to find one — but this could result in you having a lawyer who doesn’t have a lot of experience with cases like yours or just isn’t the best fit for you.
Take your time as much as you can and consider the reviews, their communication, their availability, their quote, and how you feel about them. This will ensure you get the best lawyer for your case and achieve the best possible outcome.
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