Did you know that according to some statistics that a person arrested for drunk driving has driven drunk an average of 80 times prior to being caught? When one takes into consideration that about 1.4 million people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) annually, it is easy to understand the number of cases the judicial system is faced with every year. Choosing a DUI attorney can help ensure you stand out from a sea of similar cases on the docket.
Drunk Driving Consequences
The most severe consequences associated with drunk driving are obviously the death or injury of the driver or someone else. Legal consequences for a drunk driving charge that did not result in an injury may include fines, driver?s license suspension, various fees, the installation of an ignition interlock device, car towing and impounding, continuing driver?s education, bail, and time in jail. Depending on the state one lives, points may be added to one?s driver?s license that could potentially raise the cost of auto insurance going forward for several years. Hiring a DUI attorney can help make sure that the individual’s circumstances, history, and living situation are taken into consideration when the court makes its ruling.
The Importance of Representation
Some people believe that if it is their first offense they will not need a drunk driving defense attorney. They may plan to plead guilty thinking that they won?t face more than a fine. However, depending on blood alcohol level and various other factors it is possible that a more severe sentence could be standard. It is also important to note that different judges will hand down different punishments. This is possible because in most states there is a framework of sentencing options from which a judge may choose in any given case. Pleading guilty before one judge might result in a fine while another may issue a more substantial sentence. Choosing a DUI attorney to represent you will help you make the most informed decisions and present the best possible case to the judge.
Choosing a DUI Attorney
The first step in choosing a DUI attorney is to compile a list of options. A good place to start is with personal recommendations from friends or coworkers, national legal associations, or state bar associations. Once you have an initial list complete some background investigation including where he or she is licensed, if they have ever had complaints filed against them, years of experience, law school attended, their website, and professional organizations or memberships. This should help you narrow down the pool to a few that you would be interested in meeting with.
Once you have selected the attorneys you are interested in working with, schedule meetings with each one. You will want to bring pen and paper in order to take notes throughout the consultation. Bring all of the documentation you have related to your case and be completely honest with them about what happened. Ask about their experience with similar cases and find out who will be the one who ultimately handles your case. Ask about the fees associated with representation, what is not covered by those fees, and the potential for any other legal fees from other sources. This information will be important during the comparison process.
Once you have completed all of the meetings with the attorneys from your list it is time to compare the information you have gathered. This should make the process of choosing a DUI attorney that you feel comfortable with significantly easier. While it may seem like a significant investment in time, it is important to remember this is also a financial investment and an investment in your quality of life going forward.
When choosing a DUI attorney, or choosing to forgo legal services, keep in mind that a DUI conviction can cost more than $20,000. Take the time to really consider the ramifications of facing the legal system on your own. Is it worth the risk to go with no representation or to hire someone with minimal qualifications? The outcome of your case could affect your life for years to come. Choosing a DUI attorney that is highly qualified and has extensive experience can be the difference between a bright and a dismal future.