Sometimes, you may have the poor judgment to be DWI, or driving while intoxicated. It could be because you just came from a party where there was a lot of drinking and nobody noticed that you were too drunk to get behind the wheel. Or, perhaps you were at home drinking then suddenly decided to take a quick trip to the convenience store to buy something. Whatever the reason, you will definitely need a good DWI lawyer to assist you if you get pulled over by the police and held as a DWI case.
These tips will help you find the best DWI lawyer to defend you during the hearing about your DWI case.
Tip #1 Ask Your Friends and Family if they know a Great DWI lawyer
It is always important to notify your closest friends and family members when you are held as a DWI by the police. Ask them if they know of any good DWI lawyers so they can provide a shortlist of choices for you. They may do a search online to find a site that describes the services of a DWI lawyer in your community and gives contact details.
If this is not your first time to be involved in a DWI case, ask your family or friends to contact the lawyer who had defended you before. Perhaps they can defend you again, and the added familiarity won’t hurt either. If he is not available, perhaps he can recommend one of his colleagues to assist you, especially someone who belongs to the same law firm.
Tip #2 Ask Which One Has Handled Guilty Defendants Before
Ideally, your shortlist should contain DWI lawyers who have defended guilty parties before. After all, the police have already made their report about you, given you a sobriety test which you must have failed which is why you’re in police custody. So it’s just a matter of your lawyer and you appearing before the judge to hear the charges. The point of getting this kind of lawyer is so he can plead before the judge that you are given clemency. The ideal DWI lawyer will have the necessary academic credentials, years of experience, and a great track record for defending people accused of DWI.
If the lawyer defending you now was your lawyer in a previous DWI case, then you can just bring up with him the details of this current DWI case. If you are indeed guilty, your current lawyer will probably recommend you plead guilty to the DWI charges and just wait for the judge to render judgment. You may plead not guilty but that might backfire if this isn’t your first DWI case because your previous history of DWI might be brought up before the judge. This may lead the judge to impose a more serious fine or penalty.
Tip #3 Ask About Each Lawyer’s Fee
Once you have your shortlist of possible representatives, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask about the fee that each lawyer is expected to charge for taking on your case. Some lawyers are more costly than others. Some lawyers may also charge more depending on the complexity of your case – for instance, if you hit someone with your motor vehicle while DWI then the case becomes more difficult and complicated to defend. Some lawyers are also picky about which defendants they choose to represent – if you are guilty, some lawyers may refuse to represent you because they want a reputation for defending only innocent defendants. These all are factored in when the lawyer tells you his fee.
If the lawyer whom you contacted is your former lawyer from a previous DWI case, you may ask the lawyer directly about his fee. Some lawyers may elevate their fee if they find out you are guilty and if this isn’t your first DWI case. If you choose to plead not guilty to the charges despite overwhelming evidence that you are guilty of DWI, the lawyer may want a higher fee because it is harder to defend you. He is tying his reputation to this case and may even lose clients if they find out he defended a guilty person.
Tip #4 Consult Your Lawyer About The Case
Once you have agreed to hire a lawyer, you should be able to ask him about how he plans to defend you in court. He may first ask for the legal documents that will be presented in court, meaning the police report and the bail documents. If you accidentally hit someone with your vehicle while DWI then there should be a medical report about the person or people that you hit. There may also be other legal documents, such as a search inventory report and a document stating when the judge will hear your case. These are all important so that the lawyer can anticipate what the judge will rule on the fine and possibly other punishment (like community service hours) that you have to accept.
If your lawyer is the one you hired before in a previous DWI case, he might ask for the details of your previous DWI conviction. These details are important because most likely the judge will be given copies of previous police reports about you which will show you have a history of DWI convictions. The judge might not rule favorably about this current DWI case because of your previous history. It may even result in your loss of your driver’s license because a DWI conviction now may indicate you are a repeat offender meaning you are a danger to yourself and others.
Tip #5 Replace Your Lawyer if He Doesn’t Do Much to Defend You
It is possible to make a mistake when you hired a lawyer to defend you – he might not provide the right legal advice or doesn’t do anything at all except appear in court with you. If the lawyer fails to render service satisfactorily during the first critical hours then you have the right to dismiss him and find another lawyer. Just be sure you have proof that the lawyer failed to render service, such as having a witness or getting a document from the police stating when you were released from custody and who processed it.
This is why it is a good idea to re-hire a lawyer who has represented you before. The lawyer will probably be familiar with your history and may be more inclined to help you now. Be sure to discuss possible judgment scenarios about this current case such as hours of community service or a hefty fine so that you will know what to do, such as file a leave of absence with your employer.
Tip #6 Ask for Clemency From the Judge Through Your Lawyer
It is always good to be upfront with your lawyer when you are facing a DWI charge in court so that your lawyer will clarify the situation in front of the judge. That will probably help you get a lighter sentence from the judge because you acknowledged your error in judgment at the time. Be prepared to seek clemency from the judge, especially if this isn’t your first DWI case. If possible, ask for community service hours to render instead of a fine so that it will be less expensive for you.
You will probably get a warning from the judge about your DWI history – a strict judge will probably make sure you won’t get behind the wheel for a long time while a more lenient judge may temporarily revoke your driver’s license for some months. He will also probably recommend you get counseling and treatment because your DWI convictions may indicate that you are an alcoholic. So you have to prove to the judge that you are willing to forego driving for a while and submit yourself to counseling and treatment for alcoholism.
Driving while intoxicated or DWI is one of the most common legal charges that motor vehicle owners have to face. You are allowed to hire a DWI lawyer to represent you in court so that you will know what to say in your defense in the presence of the judge. Your ideal DWI lawyer should be scrupulous about the legal documents he will study about your case. He should be intelligent enough to analyze your case well and predict what the judge will probably rule about the charges against you. Your lawyer should also be affordable so that you can pay him right after he renders service for you in court.
If this isn’t your first DWI case, it may help to get the same lawyer who represented you from a previous DWI case so that you will be defended by someone familiar to you whom you trust. Ask your lawyer to help you request for community service hours instead of paying a hefty fine or losing your driver’s license altogether. You should also be ready to acknowledge that you have a drinking problem and need help so the judge may send you for counseling and treatment.
By Reina Knibbs
Author’s Bio: Reina Knibbs is an experienced lawyer who helps clients who are involved in DWI or driving under the influence cases. She provides legal counsel to ensure that her clients win settlements in court. Reina also shares her knowledge of legal practices by writing articles online.