Important Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
If you’ve been caught and charged with driving under in the influence (DUI), you need to look into hiring a lawyer immediately.
With DUI charges, the penalties are severe. If convicted, you’re looking at both criminal and administrative penalties. What that means is that you will face fines, possibly jail time as well as have your license taken away.
A good DUI lawyer is crucial to helping you understand and navigate through your case, as well as finding a potential defence to help mitigate your punishment. Hiring the right lawyer can be tricky, so we’ve put together a list of questions to ask your DUI lawyer.
Read on to learn about what you should be looking for when hiring a DUI lawyer.
5 Essentials Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
Keep in mind that there are many competing DUI lawyers and you don’t have to hire the first one you meet.
1. Who Is Your Average Client?
You want to work with a lawyer who has handled similar types of cases in the past. If they’ve previously only represented corporations in tort law cases or worked as a divorce lawyer, they’re not going to have the experience you’re looking for.
Keep searching until you find a lawyer who has represented clients who have been in a similar situation as the one you’re in.
2. How Much Experience Do You Have with DUI Cases?
This is a deeper look into your lawyer’s background and experience than the previous question. Understanding their background will help you determine if they are the right person to represent your case.
As part of this line of questioning, you’ll want to know how long they’ve been working on DUI cases and how many they have handled during that time. Part of a lawyer’s experience is also their success rate so ask them how often they take cases to trial.
3. Do You Have Any Special Training for DUI Cases?
Ask your DUI lawyer if they have trained specifically for DUI cases.
Find out if they are certified by the DUI organization The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) or if they have any other certification that they are a DUI specialist.
If they don’t have these certifications, then you need to find out what makes them a better fit than another lawyer.
4. What Are Your Fees?
Get a complete picture of how much their services will cost, including how often you will need to pay and the payment forms that they accept. Ask if you will be billed an hourly rate or a flat fee.
Additionally, find out what the costs are for extra services including expert witnesses or blood sampling. While most lawyers offer a free consultation, you need to understand all of the payment terms before you hire them.
5. What Do You See as the Outcome for My Case?
Obviously, lawyers are not fortune tellers, but they should be able to explain the possible outcomes of your case once you’ve explained the situation to them.
Additionally, you need to ask if a plea agreement is a possibility and whether or not the case needs to go to trial. Finally, if it’s your first offense, ask them about the possibility of having your DUI arrest record expunged.
Have You Been Disciplined By The State Bar?
Attorney’s must be accredited by their state’s bar in order to practice. When your attorney commits act’s that are considered out of line with legal standards, they may end up getting disciplined (suspended from practicing, for example) or disbarred by the state altogether.
Ask your attorney if they’ve ever been disciplined by their state. If they have, ask them for what. Understanding what kind of unprofessional acts your lawyer has committed in the past can help you form a more complete opinion on whether or not to work with them.
Who Will Actually Be Handling My Case?
Just because you talk to the head of a law firm during a consultation doesn’t mean that they’re going to get involved in handling your case.
Find out if your case is going to get delegated to a more junior lawyer and, if so, ask about their qualifications and if you can meet them.
How Will We Stay in Touch During My Case?
Battling a DUI can be a scary time. That’s why it’s important that you feel comfortable contacting your lawyer and that your lawyer be proactive in keeping you updated on your case.
Try and get a feel for how open the lines of communication will be between you and your lawyer. If they seem open to answering your questions whenever you have some to ask, that’s a good thing.
If they don’t, you’ll want to keep looking.
You are interviewing the attorney. The attorney isn’t interviewing you!
The lawyer’s purpose in this meeting is to try to get hired. Your goal for this interview is to get to know the person so that you can determine whether this lawyer is the best one to handle your DUI case.
Anybody who graduates from law school can put out an ad or throw up a website that proclaims that he or she is an “experienced” DUI lawyer, that they will “fight for you” and that they have a “track record of results”. These are all relative terms and basic advertising slogans. It does not make any of that true. Some attorneys that I see advertising on their websites that they are “experienced” have been out of law school for two years and probably have never tried a case. You have to do your due diligence to ask questions and figure out if the lawyer is for real or just giving you a sales pitch.
What is DUI, and Drunk Driving?
One of the first questions to ask your DUI lawyer are pertaining to what is a DUI or what is an OWI in Indiana? While there is a difference between an OWI vs. a DUI, we’re going to discuss a DUI. DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. A person is guilty of the offense if that person is driving and in actual physical control of the vehicle within the state and the person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical substances set forth under the applicable statutes when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired or when the person has a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher.
What Does “in actual control of the vehicle” Mean?
The term, “in actual control of the vehicle” means that the individual has or had the capability and power to dominate, direct or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether or not he or she was exercising that capability or power at the time of the alleged offense. This means sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition may meet this qualification.
Are You Presumed Guilty if You Have a Blood Alcohol Level of .08%?
In any criminal case it is unconstitutional to hold presumption of guilt against the defendant. However, the fact that the defendant had .08% or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood is “prima facie” evidence that the defendant was under the influence. Studies completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have believed that you can become an unsafe driver at BAC levels of .08% or higher. .08% is a far cry lower than the initial BAC accepted level of .15% when the legal limit to drive while being intoxicated was first adopted in 1938.
It is widely accepted that the BAC for women is accumulated at a far increased rate than the BAC for men. As an example, a man aged 25 with the average weight of 170 lbs will achieve a BAC of .082% with 5 drinks in a 4 hour period, while a 25 year old woman with an average weight of 130 lbs will achieve a BAC of .088% with 3 drinks in a 2 hour period of time.
Is it Also Unlawful to Drive with a Blood Alcohol Level of .08% or Higher?
Yes, it is a crime to drive with an unlawful blood-alcohol level of .08% or above. If you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test if requested to submit to one by a law enforcement officer, in most states you could potentially risk a license suspension. By accepting the privileges extended by the laws of the state of Indiana you have given your consent to submit to an approved chemical or physical test of your breath, or to a urine test for the purpose of detecting drugs. However, you may refuse to take such tests unless you are involved in an accident involving serious bodily injury or death to another human being. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer in Indiana, which is an implied consent state, this will ultimately result in an automatic suspension of your license.
Breathalyzer laws are different in every state, and Indiana is no exception. If you’re arrested for a DUI in Indiana, with the implied consent law, and if the officer takes away your license, your driving privileges will be suspended for 90 days for the first refusal of a breathalyzer test, or for a year if this is the second refusal to take a breathalyzer test.
Questions To Ask Your DUI Lawyer Before Court
One of the scariest aspects of going to court for the average person is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and judges all have expertise in the legal process, but you are the one with legal consequences hanging in the balance. This can be intimidating.
However, with a skilled and experienced DUI attorney by your side, you don’t need to go into the process of fighting a DUI blind. Your DUI defense lawyer can equip you with the peace of mind that comes with knowledge and careful preparation.Here are four questions to ask your lawyer before you get to court:
1. “Have You Been Successful For Your Clients?”
You’ll want to learn whether the attorney you’ve decided to work with has a track record of excellence for clients, and is specialized in handling DUI cases in your area. Follow-up questions might focus on the percentage of the attorney’s cases that go to trial, win in court, get dismissed, or are bargained down to “wet reckless.” Also, try to learn how many years the attorney has practiced DUI law and how many cases like yours the attorney has handled.
2. “What Should I Hold Onto?”
It’s likely that your attorney will want you to retain all tickets, citations, and papers the police gave you after the DUI arrest. You should keep them in a safe place and never record notes on them or alter them in any way. Some of these documents could be critical evidence used by your attorney to challenge specific aspects of the procedure around your arrest.
3. “What Are The Best And Worst Case Scenarios I Can Expect In My Case?”
No attorney can guarantee a verdict of innocent or promise the best possible outcome. However, you will want to work with an attorney who can offer you a functional understanding of the charges you’re facing and the range of outcomes they’ve achieved for clients in previous cases that are similar to yours. The attorney may also be able to give you some sense of the most probable outcome in a DUI case like this.
4. “Should We Go To Trial?”
The specifics of your case could mean that there are opportunities to have it dismissed or thrown out before you get to the point where you must defend your innocence in a court trial. Once your attorney has reviewed the details of your case, it’s also likely that he or she will have valuable advice on the pros and cons of a plea deal, alternative disposition, or traditional court battle for your unique situation.