10 Questions to ask your DUI Lawyer

1. What experience do you have in handling DUI cases or taking DUI charges to trial?

When you are facing DUI charges, you are likely to be upset, nervous, emotional, and fearful about the impact that these charges and/or a conviction will have on your personal and professional life. Since the penalties for a DUI conviction have become increasingly severe in recent years, you need to ensure that you have a highly qualified attorney on your side who has extensive experience in handling DUI cases before the court in which your DUI charges are pending. If you find that a DUI attorney has a long history of representing clients accused of DUI, has won many DUI cases by going to trial, or concentrates his or her practice solely on DUI and DUI-related cases, then you are likely to have found a lawyer who has the ability to aggressively and skillfully represent you in your DUI case.

2. What type of investigation will you perform in my DUI case?

A thorough investigation in a DUI case involves a complete review of all documents and evidence produced in support of the charges against you. These documents might include items such as police reports, witness statements, and Breathalyzer or blood test results. An attorney is likely to spend a significant amount of time carefully going over every detail of the events that occurred leading up to and during your DUI arrest. This type of extensive investigation will help the attorney evaluate the evidence against you and develop the defense that is most likely to succeed in your case.

3. What kind of defense strategy do you expect to use in my DUI case?

Every DUI case is different and involves varying facts and circumstances. An experienced DUI attorney will develop a defense strategy that takes into account both the facts surrounding your case and your preferred resolution of the matter. For instance, your attorney is likely to use any weaknesses in the state’s case against you to your advantage, such as having certain pieces of evidence withheld from consideration by the court. A strong defense strategy may result in having the charges against you or the resulting penalties reduced, or even having the charges dismissed altogether.

4. What is the likely outcome of my DUI case, based on your experience?

While every case is different, there often are general trends that DUI cases follow in a particular court. An experienced DUI attorney is accustomed to handling cases before certain courts on a regular basis. For instance, a judge might make similar decisions in DUI cases based on certain facts, or the state may offer certain plea agreements under specific circumstances. One major factor that also impacts the outcome of a DUI case is your past criminal history and prior DUI convictions. This can make the potential penalties in your case much more severe. In any case, while there is no way for anyone to definitively predict the outcome of your DUI case, it is possible to learn how cases similar to yours are typically handled in a particular court.

5. What are the potential penalties for a DUI conviction in my situation?

In recent years, the penalties for a DUI conviction have become increasingly harsh as legislators seek to decrease the number of DUI-related accidents that often lead to injury or death. As a result, penalties for even a first-time DUI conviction can include driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of time, probation, fines and other fees, completion of alcohol education or counseling sessions, or even incarceration.

6. What steps can I take to improve the potential outcome of my DUI case?

It is essential that you avoid drinking as much as possible, and certainly avoid any situation in which you can again be accused of drunk driving. Being arrested for DUI while you already have a pending DUI is not helpful to your case. Furthermore, you should make every effort to show the court that incarceration or suspended driving privileges are not necessary in your case. For instance, you could voluntarily have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle and voluntarily undergo an alcohol assessment and/or counseling. It also is helpful to be gainfully employed or demonstrate the existence of family responsibilities, so as to show the court that incarceration and/or suspended driving privileges might result in the loss of your job.

7. Will I automatically lose my driver’s license if I am arrested for DUI?

Most state laws provide for an administrative driver’s license. This means that if you are arrested for DUI, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended if you do not take certain steps immediately. You typically have a very limited amount of time in which to file an appeal or ask for a hearing on the suspension. If you fail to do so, your license may be automatically suspended for a specific period of time, even if you have not yet been convicted of DUI. Furthermore, a judge in a DUI case also can order that your driver’s license be suspended. However, it is possible under some circumstances to obtain a restricted driver’ s license, which, for example, allows you to drive back and forth to work or school.

8. Is there any way that I can avoid going to jail if convicted of DUI?

Many first-time DUI offenders do not receive any jail sentences, although it is always a possibility. However, if you have an extensive criminal history or it is a subsequent DUI offense, you may be subject to a mandatory period of incarceration based on your state’s DUI laws. Many states have enacted laws that set forth mandatory minimum jail sentences in DUI cases.

9. What sort of deal or plea agreement am I likely to be offered in my DUI case?

As DUI cases tend to be common in most jurisdictions, the state often will offer standard deals to those who are accused of DUI. These deals, or plea agreements, require you to plead guilty to DUI or perhaps another lesser offense, in exchange for receiving lighter or reduced penalties. For instance, the state may offer for you to avoid jail time if you agree to plead guilty rather than going to trial on the charges.

10. How long can I expect my DUI case to last before it is resolved?

The length of your DUI case from arrest to final resolution often can take a few months. While DUI cases tend to move more quickly through the court system than some other types of cases, certain complexities or other complicating factors in your case may cause it to be lengthier. If a case goes to trial, then it often will be a longer process, as the case will have to be scheduled on the court’s calendar for trial. Although you undoubtedly will want to have your case resolved as quickly as possible, you also will need to give your attorney time to work on reaching the best resolution possible in your case, whether it means reaching a plea agreement with the state or proceeding to trial.