Finding a lawyer for your DUI can be the most integral part of accomplishing the goals in your case. There is a lot of information out there, and sifting through it to find the right DUI attorney is a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to help you find a DUI lawyer that’s right for you.
Be Sure the Lawyer Specializes in OWI / DWI/ DUI Law
This may seem like a simple step, but it’s actually quite important, and not as easy as you might think. A lawyer who says “I handle DUI’s” may not have the level of knowledge you really want. Ask what percentage of a lawyer’s case load is DUI’s. How long have they been practicing DUI law? Do they regularly attend seminars to keep up to date on ever-changing drunk driving laws? Are they up to date on all current DUI state laws? Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about your case and how it will impact you. If the attorney is unwilling to give you specific answers about how the OWI will affect you, they likely do not practice enough drunk driving defense.
Be Sure the DUI Attorney Practices in Your Area
As a practicing Wisconsin DUI attorney well versed in Wisconsin DUI law, DUI Lawyer I’ve seen firsthand how knowing the players on the field can be just as important as knowing the rules of the game. Knowing the particular judges, and how they run their courtroom, while it won’t change the law, can increase your chances for a positive outcome. Knowing the prosecutors, on the other hand, is an invaluable resource. Check to see if the DUI attorney you are considering knows the prosecutor’s names, and if he has worked with them in the past. If not, ask what the attorney plans on doing to learn about them before stepping foot in the Courtroom.
From time to time, I get retained on cases outside my general geographic region in Northeast Wisconsin. Knowing that I am a very experienced Wisconsin DUI attorney and very familiar with Wisconsin DUI laws, we’ve had clients get in trouble out-of-town but want a lawyer from their area to work with, or clients from all areas of Wisconsin that are aware of our reputation as a Wisconsin DUI attorney and are willing to pay to have excellent, aggressive representation. Some clients are concerned of the ‘ol boys network’ and want a specific DUI attorney from outside their geographic area.
Bottom line: if your DUI lawyer is not familiar with your judge and your prosecutor, make sure he or she has a plan to get information about them before they ever step foot in that courtroom.
Beware, sometimes a prosecutor knowing your attorney can be a negative. If your attorney does not challenge OWI’s or DUI’s aggressively, the prosecutor will know that fact and may be less willing to give your attorney the best deal possible. If the attorney has a reputation for taking a plea deal and not going to trial, it is unlikely the prosecutor will give an offer that contemplates the case going to trial.
Be Sure the Lawyer is Current on DUI Law
DUI law is the most dynamic and complex area of litigation in the criminal law. In Wisconsin, Wisconsin DUI laws change frequently. The legislature makes changes to OWI/DUI laws nearly every year, and in some instances, the law, as interpreted by the Court can change the landscape in a matter of a day. Be sure your DUI lawyer stays up to date on these issues. They involve a significant amount of scientific and physiological evidence. Do they know the terms “retrograde extrapolation”, “Hinz chart”, “gas chromatograph” or “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus”? If they don’t, they do not have enough experience with defending OWI’s
Ask about professional memberships such as the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, or the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Ask if they keep their training current by attending Continuing Legal Education seminars on DUI / OWI. When did they last attend? Ask if they are members of any DUI/OWI listservs to keep them appraised of quick changes in the law. You want a well-informed DUI lawyer.