How do you go about choosing a good DWI lawyer? The fact is that most people charged with a DWI really don’t know how to go about finding the right DWI to represent them.
That’s because DWIs are the most common criminal charge faced by people who have otherwise never been charged with a crime. That is: Driving While Impaired charges are charges typically against people who otherwise abide by the law.
When searching for a DWI lawyer, you can start by asking friends or family. The problem is that friends and family don’t always know whether the lawyer that may have represented them did a good job. All they know is whether they won or lost.
1. Does the DWI lawyer go to trial?
A DWI will almost always only be won in Wake County if the lawyer you hire actually challenges the State’s evidence. Wake County has a policy against dismissing DWIs; consequently, your DWI will only be dismissed in extraordinary circumstances.
Plea deals to lesser includeds, such as careless and reckless, are almost never available.
In short, your DWI will only be won if you have a lawyer who takes the time to try to win it. That’s not to say that all DWIs that are challenged can be beaten. Many DUIs are destined to end in conviction because the facts are bad – the driving was poor, the person didn’t do well on the field sobriety tests, the person admitted to drinking, and the person produced a result on the breathalyzer that was above the legal limit.
But the way to win a DWI starts by taking the time to try the case.
2. Does the DWI lawyer know the law?
Knowing the law is half the battle. If the lawyer has trouble articulating the law, or explaining how the process works, you probably want to steer clear of hiring that attorney.
Listen carefully to the lawyer’s explanations. See if they are consistent with other things you’ve heard from other lawyers.
3.Does the attorney make guarantees?
Avoid lawyers who guarantee results. First, it is unethical for a lawyer to guarantee a particular result. Second, especially in impaired driving cases, it’s impossible to often predict an outcome. I have had cases where, upon interviewing clients, I suspect the case is hopeless. But after investigation, I have identified avenues to successfully attack the state’s case. Similarly, I’ve had cases which look promising at the start, but turn out to be difficult or impossible to win at the end.
Lawyers who promise results simply want your money. Avoid these situations.
4. Does the DUI lawyer know the science?
DWIs, more than almost any other area of the law, regularly involve scientific (like Henry’s Law) principles, and pseudo-scientific principles (such as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test).
You should seek a lawyer who is well-versed in the scientific principles behind the DWI and DWI prosecutions.
Who will be representing you?
Too often people hire a firm, thinking they will be represented by the person advertising decades of experience, only to find that the lawyer hired is not the lawyer who will represent the person in court.
Make sure that you know who will represent you; make sure you understand that person’s level of experience; and make sure that the firm you hire has stability. Have lawyers left the firm in the past several years and a rapid rate? Will the lawyer you like be there in 6 months?