One of the most daunting tasks facing individuals charged with DUI is finding a competent and seasoned attorney to defend them. Do not give short shrift to this effort. Finding the right attorney can be the difference between escaping conviction and years of hardship caused by a quick decision.
Solicit Advice of Friends or Family
Though revealing that you have been arrested and charged with a DUI might be difficult, referrals from friends and family who have gone through a similar situation can be invaluable. If they were pleased with their representation, interviewing that attorney would be a wise first step. If they were unhappy, it's a good sign that that particular attorney should be avoided. Remember, most people who get stopped for a first DUI are in a bit of a "there but for the grace of God go I" situation. The vast majority of people out there, even if they haven't been arrested for a DUI in the past, certainly could have been at some point in time. Don't be ashamed. Ask your friends and family for referrals. It is the best way to start the interview process.
Do Your Research
The internet is filled with web sites authored by very skilled DUI attorneys. Find sites created by attorneys in your area and read them. Most of these sites will be very good overviews of what to expect throughout the process and pitfalls to avoid. More importantly from an attorney search perspective, it will give you an insight into how each attorney views the practice of DUI law. Call or email the attorneys from the sites you find most helpful. Do they respond to your queries quickly? Are they willing to talk through your issues over the phone or are they immediately interested in quoting you a price? By their phone manner do they seem like someone you could work with? Instincts based on first impressions can be very accurate. If they are more concerned about talking price instead of the issues relating to your case, go the other way. Set appointments for consultations with those that you feel good about.
Interview as Many Attorneys as You Feel Comfortable With
Many people will hire the first attorney they speak with. While wanting this task to be over with as soon as possible is certainly understandable, quick and uninformed hirings are probably the single biggest reason why people are unhappy with their representation. There is always the lingering thought of "did I pull the trigger too quickly?" Personally interview no fewer than three attorneys. More if time permits. You will start to notice that those who practice in this area have very similar things to say about your case. If one is making outlandish claims or speaks in vagaries, it should be a warning sign. Of those that you feel are knowledgeable and experienced, ask them questions, as many as you can muster. It's the answers to your personal questions that will ultimately differentiate the qualified attorneys and help you select the one most suited to your needs.
Use Price as a Guideline, Not the Determining Factor
In today's economy, more than ever, people have a tough decision to make when it comes to hiring a DUI lawyer. "How much should I spend?" The answer obviously depends on financial status but there are a couple rules of thumb to consider. First, just because a lawyer is the least expensive does not mean he or she is a good bargain. Unfortunately, if the price seems too good to be true it probably is. Much more often than not, the person charging a fee that is way below the industry average is looking to get in and out of the case as quickly as possible. That usually means a guilty plea. Buyer beware. Second, the most expensive lawyer is not always the best lawyer. Sometimes a high rate indicates experience and ability. But certainly not always. More importantly, some DUI cases are simply less difficult to defend than others. Get a very good feel for where your case falls along this spectrum and hire an attorney whose fee recognizes the relative ease or difficulty of your case.
Hire the DUI Lawyer You Are Most Comfortable With
After talking to friends and family, doing your online research, talking to attorneys on the phone and in person and determining how much you should reasonably pay for your defense, you should be ready to make your decision. Pick the lawyer who you truly believe will be looking out for your best interests. If you put in the requisite amount of work, it's very likely that you will make a good decision. Remember, in picking the right lawyer, as in life, there is no substitute for hard work and preparation. It's what you need to do to pick a good lawyer. It's also what you must expect from your lawyer after you've made the decision to hire. Good Luck.