Below are common questions relating to a Washington DUI lawyer search. Review them or go to our Finding a DUI Attorney page for more information.
When should I begin looking for an attorney?
You should begin your search for an attorney immediately. In some jurisdictions, it may take months before the DUI charge is filed. But the Department of Licensing will still require you to take action within the first 20 days. In other jurisdictions however, you may be in court within 24 to 72 hours of your arrest. In those instances, and based upon your DUI or criminal history, you may be before a judge who will be anxious to place conditions on your release from the imposition of bail, to ordering that you install an ignition interlock device in your car. In some courts, you might even be placed on home detention. For more, go to our Where Were You Arrested?page.
By when should I have hired an attorney?
You need to have an attorney, at the latest, prior to your DOL license hearing or your arraignment, whichever comes first. There are important legal rights at stake in both proceedings, from your driving privilege to your continued release pending the outcome of your case. By hiring an attorney after these proceedings, your case may be injured in a way that can not be easily cured.
How many attorneys should I interview?
I usually advise prospective clients to interview at least two and preferably three attorneys. If you feel comfortable hiring the first attorney you speak with, there is nothing wrong with that. It does, however, deprive you of having your case reviewed by more than one person. The more free advice you can get up front, the more comfortable you will be with your ultimate decision.
What should I look for in deciding which DUI lawyer to hire?
First and foremost you need to make sure you hire someone who practices primarily if not completely, DUI law. DUI law is very specific and contains a multitude of potential consequences that don’t exist even in other areas of criminal defense. Someone who dabbles in DUI or is just taking the case because the opportunity is there can often do more harm than good. At best, you would be paying them to learn as they go. Beyond that, look for a DUI lawyer who has been in practice for a reasonable period of time and is familiar with the jurisdiction, judges, and prosecutors of your arrest location. Make sure he/she understands the science behind the B.A.C. Make sure this person has trial experience. Above all, make sure your DUI lawyer has a concrete plan for defending your case, a blueprint for success.
What happens if I choose to be represented by a public defender?
There is nothing wrong with having a public defender handle your case. Most of the public defenders I see on a regular basis are very talented and dedicated lawyers. They have a great deal of court room and trial experience. Certainly there are some who are better than others but this is true in the private defense world as well. From a DUI perspective there are three main reasons you will be better served by a private DUI attorney. The first is that the public defense agencies only handle criminal matters. Therefore, they would not be able to assist you with the Department of Licensing. Second is just a matter of caseload. When you have a private lawyer, you will likely be the only client he or she has in court on a given day. Public defense agencies, by their very nature have very large caseloads. DUI cases require a lot of personalized and individual attention. Finally, a DUI attorney is someone who spends a vast majority of his time, if not all of it, defending DUIs. He or she is an expert in the field.
I’m guilty anyway. Why should I hire a DUI lawyer?
Because pleading “guilty” ensures that you get hit with every mandatory penalty that is mentioned in this web site. By pleading “not guilty” you put the government to it’s constitutional task over proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. You give a lawyer the opportunity to argue on your behalf, to negotiate your case. Regardless of the facts of the cases we deal with, the vast majority are resolved without a DUI conviction. If you plead guilty, you will deprive yourself of that very attainable outcome. The government will expend a great many resources trying to punish you, very severely. Don’t help it do that.