Find a Good DUI Lawyer for Your Case with These 3 Questions
Selecting a DUI lawyer is a major decision. If you're convicted of driving while under the influence, NOLO reports, your driver's license may be suspended, your auto insurance policy may be canceled, and you'll likely have to pay a fine. You may even lose your job, if it involves driving, or you could go to jail. When you hire a DUI attorney, you're trusting them to represent you well and help you get as favorable a ruling for your case as possible. Here are some questions to ask attorneys that will help you find the best one for the job.
Have You Read the 2015 SFSA Manual and 2013 ARIDE Manual?
As DC.gov notes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published two manuals that guide police officers on how to administer and document field-sobriety tests. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) manual has been updated seven times, most recently in 2015. The Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) manual was published in 2007 and updated in 2013. Both manuals are used to train officers throughout the country on sobriety tests.
A lawyer who specializes in DUI cases will be familiar with both of these manuals. Since both are readily available online, a lawyer may not have a copy of them in their office. They will, however, have read them.
Reading over these manuals and studying their minutiae may help your lawyer attack the validity of any field-sobriety test you took. If the police officer made even a single mistake that's not consistent with the manuals' teachings and protocols, a DUI attorney will be able to identify the error and use it to your advantage.
Will You Go to the Location of the Incident?
To fully understand all the details surrounding your case, your DUI lawyer will need to visit the spot where you were pulled over. Going to the location of the incident will take time, but it'll also give your attorney insight that no amount of reading books and studying laws can afford. For example, they might notice any of the following things that could help your case:
- the road may be windy, which could help explain erratic driving
- there might not be lines on the road, which could make staying in your lane difficult
- there may be a lot of traffic, which could make a person nervous when performing a field-sobriety test
Additionally, if you had to perform a field-sobriety test off of the road, your attorney might walk on the ground where you were tested. Large rocks, a steep slope, or other features could have made the test abnormally difficult for even a sober driver.
Where Are Most of Your Cases?
You'll need to hire a DUI lawyer who is licensed to practice law in the state in which you were pulled over. You shouldn't just look for any lawyer in the state, though. Instead, seek out someone who has represented clients in the same county, city, or town where your case is going to be tried.
An attorney who has represented other cases in the same area will be familiar with any local traffic laws that may apply to your case. For instance, a city may have a no-parking ordinance. If there were cars illegally parked on the side of the road, they may have forced you to swerve in the road.
A local DUI attorney will also have gone before the judge who oversees cases in the area before, and they may have an idea as to how the judge will rule in your case. At the very least, they should be familiar with some of the judge's past actions.
Talk to law firms such as Hart Law Offices, PC to find an attorney that will be a good fit for you.