5 Things to Know Before You Hire a DUI Lawyer
A DUI arrest comes with many complications and questions like:
- Will I lose my license?
- Will I go to jail?
- Can I plead not guilty?
- Will I have a criminal record?
- Can I get accepted into the Pennsylvania ARD Program or a diversion program to avoid penalties?
- Should I hire a DUI Lawyer?”
These are all valid questions. A DUI can be overwhelming and stressful to deal with on top of everything else in your life.
The penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania are extraordinarily harsh and if you value your future and your freedom, a DUI lawyer is the best person equipped to help you fight to keep your rights and your freedom.
There should be no question: yes, you should hire a DUI lawyer. But hiring the right DUI lawyer can be a challenge. You want a DUI lawyer who is experienced and aggressive and really cares about your case—these things could have a huge impact on your future.
A first time DUI in PA you could mean up to six months in prison, a $5,000 fine and a 12-month license suspension, upon conviction. It is doubtful that this is the future you envisioned.
There are several options to fight for your DUI charges to be dismissed or reduced. It is also possible to enter into probation programs like The ARD Program. A good attorney can help you pursue these options, or fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced.
A DUI arrest is not a conviction.
If an experienced DUI attorney is fighting for you, there is a much greater possibility for minimizing your sentence or having your charges dropped altogether.
But finding an experienced, successful and hard working attorney whose goal is to have your case dismissed can be a challenge.
Most DUI attorneys will offer a free consultation, giving you a chance to find out more about the attorney while also learning more about your legal options surrounding your DUI charges.
The following advice on hiring a DUI attorney will help you ask DUI lawyers the right questions when finding one that is right for you.
1) What is the experience and success rate of the attorney?
The first thing you should try to find out is how long the attorney has been practicing law or whether or not the attorney has a high success rate of winning cases like yours. It is perfectly acceptable to ask an attorney this question during your consultation. You can also ask them how many cases like yours they have defended.
If an attorney has only handled a few cases or has less than a year of experience, you may be taking a gamble on your future.
Another way to find out more about the DUI attorney is to check the following social media websites and lawyer reviews sites.
By reading online reviews, you can gain a better understanding of the attorney by seeing their online profiles and what others are saying about their services, including their clients and peers.
2) How much personal attention will my case receive?
During your initial consultation, ask the attorney how much of your case he or she will personally handle. This is important because many top attorneys will take your case and then hand it off to a junior attorney or an attorney with less experience.
In many cases, this is perfectly acceptable because the top attorney will still oversee your case and handle the overall strategy for defending your case, but you should know up front whom you will be working closely with and who to contact if you have questions as the case progresses.
Ask whom you can contact with questions and how quickly you should expect a response to your question. Ask how often you will be updated about your case. And also ask whether the attorney prefers contact by phone, email or text message.
If applicable, you should also ask how often and who will be appearing at the courthouse when your case is heard.
Knowing upfront whether the attorney intends on giving your case personal attention and is committed to defending your rights can determine whether you will happy in the end with the attorney you choose.
3) What is my comfort level with the attorney?
When you hire a DUI attorney, you are trusting them to defend your most basic rights and freedom. Your future depends on how hard they work on your case and you may have to work with them closely for weeks or months to come — you want to be able to communicate and feel comfortable with whomever you hire.
- When you are considering a DUI attorney to take on your case, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the attorney adequately and thoroughly answer all of my questions?
- Does the attorney ask me the right questions and then listen to my answers?
- Does the attorney make me feel worse about my situation or are they being helpful?
- Is the attorney being realistic about my situation? If they promise you the moon, they may be after only your money.
- Did I understand what the attorney was telling me? If they are speaking in complicated terms, they may not be effective communicators, which makes for a poor attorney.
- In order to find a good attorney that you feel comfortable with, you should contact at least three attorneys by phone.
4) Does the DUI attorney have a strategy?
After you explain the details of your case to the attorney, they should have some options to give you on how to proceed. If the attorney has prepared for cases like yours in the past, they will know the laws, how the courts work, and what is to be expected.
The attorney should be able to tell you how they will combat your charges and some best case / worst case scenarios for the outcomes.
- In your initial consultation with the attorney, ask them the following:
- Given what I’ve explained about my case, what do you think is the best strategy for winning the case or minimizing the repercussions?
- What can I expect as this case progresses—what happens during the arraignment, filing of motions, hearings and trial?
- Are there any documents or information I can provide for you to aid in my defense?
When meeting with the DUI attorney, in order for them to be able to give you thorough answers, you should provide them with relevant documents regarding your case.
- You should gather the following documents before meeting with the attorney:
- Police reports
- Court documentation
- Any paperwork you have received from the courts or the police
- A list of names of any witnesses or victims involved in your DUI arrest or accident.
5) How much will a DUI lawyer in PA cost?
DUI Attorney fees can seem costly. But when you compare these fees to the amount you may lose when you can’t get to work because you lost your license or have to go to jail, the lawyer fees are minor.
The potential loss of income because you may not be able to find a job, get into college or obtain financial aid because you have a criminal record, could far outweigh the cost of a good DUI lawyer.
Fees for DUI attorneys can vary greatly. Some attorneys may promise flat rate fees that seem inexpensive, but these attorneys are likely to do minimal work beyond filing basic paperwork and showing up at court. In addition, they could charge you later down the road for additional work or if your case takes an unexpected turn.
In order to avoid the unexpected, you can ask the attorney to sign an employment contract that lays out all the possible costs that your case may encounter.
The unique circumstances behind your arrest may also play a big role in how much a DUI attorney will cost. If the attorney thinks it will take a lot of time and you have a complicated case, the fees will surely be higher than a less complex type of DUI case.
When you hire a DUI Lawyer, you should know the fees upfront. There may always be circumstances that arise that will cause more work for the attorney, but at least you will know what this added work will cost.
- Ask the DUI Attorney the following questions regarding their fees:
- Do you charge an hourly fee or a flat fee?
- What is included in the flat rate fee?
- If they work at an hourly rate, ask how many hours they expect to work on your case.
- Are there any other expenses that I will have to pay out of pocket?
- What forms of payment does your law office accept?
- Are the fees refundable?
FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION
At Ketchel Law, we offer free legal consultations to people charged with DUI. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your DUI.
You can either schedule a visit to our office in Downtown Pittsburgh or have the consultation over the phone.
When you schedule your initial consultation, make sure to have with you a list of questions to ask so you don’t forget anything and to make the best use of your time.
Learn More About DUI Laws in Pennsylvania:
- DUI Lawyer Pittsburgh
- First-time DUI in PA
- The ARD Program
- Second DUI in PA
- The DUI Court Process
- The Penalties for a DUI Conviction in PA
- DUI Controlled Substance / DUI Drugs
- DUI Arrest in PA with a BAC over .16
- Underage DUI
- Underage Drinking in PA
- Third DUI Offense and Subsequent DUI Offenses
- DUI in PA with a CDL License
- DUI while on Probation
- DUI Prescription Medication
- DUI Accident with Injuries
- DUI Field Sobriety Tests
- The Birchfield Ruling—New Supreme Court Ruling on DUI