If you've been charged with DUI, it's natural to feel scared and stressed when you consider the consequences you could be facing. Aside from the fines you will be required to pay if you are convicted, there can also be substantial additional costs and penalties incurred as a result including:
- Suspension or revocation of your license–usually for a minimum of 90 days for first-time offenders, and lasting several years for repeat offenders or where significant injury or property damage was caused–making it difficult to carry out daily tasks, such as getting to work or running errands, not to mention the expenses incurred in finding alternative forms of transportation, such as public transportation, ride-sharing services, taxis, etc,
- Having to install an ignition interlock device on your car, which may be a required condition for having your driver’s license reinstated.
- Attorney’s fees and administrative fees that are charged by the courts and law enforcement authorities in processing your case and ensuring your compliance with conditions for reduced penalties or the issuance of restricted licenses (for example, compliance with the ignition interlock device requirements mentioned above).
- A criminal record, which can present difficulties in finding employment or a place to rent as many potential employers and landlords conduct background checks, as well as ineligibility for certain government benefits.
- Rate hikes in your vehicle insurance premiums. Insurance companies view DUI convictions as high-risk and evidence of reckless or irresponsible behavior on the road. As a result, they may view the individual as a greater liability and charge higher rates to compensate for the increased risk. This can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional insurance costs over the years following a DUI conviction.
- Lost wages for time you may have missed from work due to court appearances or alcohol training programs you may be required to attend.
When you take into account all of the negative consequences mentioned above, it is clear that finding the best attorney to represent you is of utmost importance.
4 things to look for when shopping around for a DUI attorney
- Look for an attorney whose practice focuses on DUI law and who has court experience in that area. Inquire into the number of DUI cases they handled in the past few years, and what percentage of their overall practice is focused in that area (as opposed to other practice areas such as family law, bankruptcy, real estate, etc.). Also ask if they have relevant trial experience. While the pros and cons of negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution instead of taking a case to trial is a matter of strategy which will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, you should nonetheless hire an attorney that has substantial trial experience in case you end up in court.
- Look for an attorney who practices locally. Regardless of how knowledgeable and skilled an attorney is on defending DUI cases, hiring one who practices in your area brings a number of added advantages such as being familiar with the judges at your local court, which can help them schedule hearings before those that tend to be more lenient. Additionally, local defense attorneys often have established informal relationships with the local courts’ prosecution which often means they can negotiate better plea deals.
- Consider what works for you and your wallet. Professional rules of ethics governing the practice of law require that attorneys disclose their rates and how they calculate them. When shopping around for an attorney keep in mind that there are many things you can be charged for other than their hourly rates, such as rates for time they spend traveling to and from court (which can be lower than their standard hourly rates), mileage reimbursement rates, making court appearances, etc. Furthermore, if you are facing financial difficulties, it's worth inquiring about payment plans as a potential option. Many attorneys offer flexible payment plans to help clients manage their legal fees, so don't hesitate to ask.
- Research the attorney and check for positive recommendations. When choosing an attorney, seeking recommendations from trusted individuals such as friends, family members, or acquaintances who have dealt with similar legal situations can provide valuable information. Ask each attorney you consult with for references (note that attorneys may not pay, compensate, or offer discounts to clients or former clients in return for positive references or reviews). Another great resource for vetting potential attorneys are online reviews and directories such as AAL which contain ratings and reviews.
AAL’s nationwide network of attorneys and law firms excel in client care. We know how stressful a lawsuit can be, so our partners prioritize keeping you in the know while they work towards a swift resolution of your case.
Don’t wait. Contact AAL today and let us match you with DUI attorneys in your area that have the resources, legal expertise, and experience to give you top-notch representation.