No matter what state you live in, you will have a variety of DWI attorneys to choose from, each seemingly as skilled as the other. When accused of Driving while Intoxicated and frightened of the legal consequences, choosing your best defender can fuel an already upsetting circumstance. There are things you can do, however, to ensure your decision is a sound one.
Talking to people who have had their own DWI cases is always helpful, but do not forget about people who are truly knowledgeable.
The arresting officer has probably seen more than a few DWI attorneys in action. Ask whom they would choose if he or she were in your situation. You can also seek a referral from a court clerk, security guard, court reporter or even a bailiff from the county of your arrest.
Your family lawyer, if not skilled in DWI defense, should be able to recommend a quality DWI attorney. In addition, your local library will have a copy of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which lists attorneys by state. The American Bar Association and your state and county Bar Associations may offer a referral service. Make a list and begin your own research.
Use the Internet to search profiles. Look for lawyers with advanced training, and certification from the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) or The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). A handful of lawyers across the country are even certified in Field Sobriety and Evidentiary Breath Alcohol testing. You want to know the lawyer you choose has advanced training and is keeping up with ever-changing state laws.
Publications and Seminars
The best lawyers in each state are typically active in public service, give seminars, and advanced training to other lawyers and police departments. Some attorneys create informational publications for consumers. Question the lawyers you interview to see how active they are in promoting and educating.
Though using technology in the courtroom is not common yet, innovative attorneys use technology for everything from speeding up the movement of information to visual effects, jury education and enhanced proceedings. PDA's, laptops, projectors, PowerPoint presentations, instant courtroom research, and electronic litigation reports are becoming more important in legal proceedings. Technology definitely has its advantages. Ask your potential attorney if and how s/he uses technology to help win DWI cases.
Follow Your Instincts
Initial consultations should always be free. Use the consultations to get a feel for your lawyer. A good attorney will ask you many questions, be genuinely interested in your situation, and will explain how the process works and how it will affect you. They will not seem rushed or distracted. If an associate will be handling your case, the attorney should introduce you and make you feel comfortable.
He or she should be available to you if you have questions or concerns. Some attorneys will even give you their home or cell phone numbers, in case you have concerns or problems after office hours.
Most lawyers have a flat fee for DWI cases. Do not end your interview until you have discussed fees and obligations.
Choosing the Attorney
How you feel when you are sitting in front of the attorney means a lot. You should be comfortable with this attorney and feel that he or she has a true interest in your case. You need to know that he or she will respond to emails or phone calls, that they and the law firm staff will be available to answer your questions and keep you informed.
Research your choices carefully. You will be closely involved with this person for the next six to twelve months and must believe in your lawyer's abilities to defend you.